What is disc replacement surgery?

Spinal surgery is a serious matter as the operation takes place near nerves, ligaments and bones of the spine.   Cervical disc replacement is a procedure, in which a degenerated or damaged disc is removed by a back pain specialist and a prostheses disc is placed in its position. Cervical discs are located between two vertebra and they act like cushions for absorbing the pressure. The damages caused to a disc due to old age or accidents can be a source of severe pain. If the disc gets dislocated from its original position it will cause undue pressure on the spinal cord or on the nerve roots that come out  of spinal canal at vertebral level. This can result in the formation of bone spurs known as osteophytes causing pressure on root nerves and spinal cord. This can lead to neck pain and numbness that radiates to the arms from the neck.

Cervical disc replacement

Physical therapy is the standard therapeutic method followed in the first instance. Medication and spinal injections are also given by back pain specialist at this stage of the condition. If no improvement is noticed even after undergoing the above treatment for a period of 6 to 12 weeks, then your surgeon may suggest disc replacement surgery. Fusion surgery and anterior cervical discectomy are the common procedures involved in many cases of cervical disc diseases.

Anterior disectomy with disc fusion surgery

In disc replacement surgery an incision is made in the neck in its front side allowing the surgeon to remove the damaged disc so that the pressure on nerve roots and spinal cord is relieved. After removing the disc the space created between the bones are filled with a bone graft or with a synthetic device. This allows the two discs with the bone graft in between to grow as one piece resulting in reduced motion. In anterior discetomy, screws and plates are used to provide stability for achieving good fusion. The patients are usually immobilized for at least six weeks after the surgical procedure. X-rays are periodically taken to ascertain the whether the fusion process has become successful or not.

Disc arthroplasty

This is a more recent FDA approved procedure for treating disc disease and disc replacement surgery Woodbridge, VA. This is similar in nature to the procedure explained above, except for the fact that the space created by removing vertebra is filled with an artificial substance using a disc replacement device. This device allows two metallic surfaces to the upper and lower discs in the junction under question.  These metal implants are then allowed to slide on each disc directly. They are often filled with a medical grade plastic piece which allows motion between the metal parts acting  as a cushion enabling them to move.

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