A groundbreaking study conducted by researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City will provide increased confidence for prospective cervical spine surgery patients: it confirms that patients can undergo an intricate surgery known as an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) on an outpatient basis and expect to have the same level of satisfaction and safety as is true of patients who have the surgery on an inpatient basis.
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is an extremely common procedure. It removes single or multiple herniated or degenerated discs from the neck, and is frequently offered as a solution when more conservative treatment protocols fail to provide relief from discomfort. Once the problematic disc or discs have been removed, the cervical spine specialist inserts a bone graft to bridge the area between the vertebrae that the damaged disc had originally been cushioning.
Though our cervical spine specialty practice in New Jersey has long offered this surgical procedure on an outpatient basis to patients for whom conservative approaches have failed, this study targeted general concerns over the potential for post-operative complications. Carefully comparing the outcomes for patients undergoing multi-level ACDF in outpatient settings to those of patients who had the same surgery in hospital settings combined with overnight stays, the researchers found that the 103 patients in the study had similar outcomes. Both inpatient and outpatient surgical patients reported improvements in their level of discomfort, as well as in their overall function, with no apparent difference based on what surgical setting their surgery was performed in.
The study found that patients who had outpatient surgery tended to have fewer discs being removed. It also found that outpatient surgeries took less time than inpatient surgeries, and required patients to remain in the surgical facility for a significantly shorter period of time: outpatients remained in the surgical centers for an average of 8.5 hours, while inpatient surgical patients stayed for almost 36 hours. Despite these significant differences, patients reported no difference in their level of pain after the procedure was done, and similar improvements at six months after the surgery was performed.
Regarding the similarity in outcomes between the surgical settings, the lead investigator wrote,
“In our study, the surgical setting did not impact patient-reported outcomes. The results suggest that multi-level ACDF can be performed safely in the outpatient setting without an increased risk of complications in appropriately selected patients. Specifically, the patient’s age, additional health conditions, and number of levels being fused should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to perform multi-level ACDF in an outpatient setting.”
If you have been experiencing neck pain, minimally invasive surgery may be the solution you need, but there is a strong possibility that conservative treatment approaches can provide you with significant relief. The first step to determining what answer is best for you is to make an appointment with our cervical spine specialist in New Jersey so that we can do a thorough examination and diagnosis. Contact our office today to put yourself on the path to recovery.