Cervical Disc Replacement

The cervical spine is located in the neck region and consists of seven bones arranged one on top of the other. Cushioning tissue called vertebral discs located between the vertebrae act as shock absorbers, allowing easy movement of the neck.

Cervical disc replacement surgery is an alternative to the traditional cervical spine fusion surgery, which involves the permanent fusion of two vertebral bodies, eliminating movement between them. Artificial cervical disc replacement is usually indicated in:

  • Young patients with cervical radiculopathy due to a “soft” herniated disc
  • Patients without significant cervical spine arthritis
  • Mostly arm pain and little neck pain

Artificial cervical disc replacement is contraindicated in the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, pregnancy, significant osteoporosis, or those with significant cervical spine arthritis.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and is guided with the help of X-ray imaging (fluoroscopy). You will lie face up on the operating table. Your surgeon approaches the cervical spine from the front of your neck through a small incision. The important structures in your neck are gently moved to the side to access the cervical spine. The damaged disc that is compressing the spinal cord and/or nerve roots are identified and removed. The artificial disc device is sized and placed in the prepared disc space, restoring its normal height and relieving any pressure over the spinal nerves. The incisions are closed and covered with a dressing.

The potential risks associated with artificial disc replacement surgery may include infection, bleeding, nerve injury, difficulty breathing or swallowing, change in your voice, leakage of spinal fluid, or a break or loosening of the prosthesis, requiring further surgery.

The advantages of artificial cervical disc replacement include:

  • Maintains normal neck movement
  • Lowers the risk of degeneration of adjacent segments
  • Does not require bone graft
  • Allows early neck motion after surgery
  • Faster return to daily activities