Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement
Artificial disc replacement (ADR) provides an alternative solution to an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion when treating damaged or herniated discs in the cervical spine. This procedure has been developed to maintain motion and decrease stress on the surrounding discs. Also known as total disc arthroplasty, ADR is an approved option for surgically treating cervical disc disease. The cervical disc function like shock absorbers or cushions betwen bones (vertebra) in our neck (cervical spine). The disc of our neck can become worn and damaged either from degeneration or trauma, like whiplash, from a car wreck. If part of the disc is dislodged from its normal position it causing a herniated or bulging disc that compresses the spinal cord or nerve roots causing discomfort, and pain in the neck, arms and hands. Left untreated, the bulging disc can cause the body to form bone spurs called osteophytes, which can further compress the spinal cord or exiting nerves, causing greater pain. Furthermore, the compression on the spinal cord by a herniated disc, can cause neurologic symptoms such as pain, numbness or weakness that radiates through the neck into one or both arms and hands.
Unlike an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), a cervical artificial disc replacement is an excellent surgical option to remove the osteophytes and herniated disc. The ADR surgery removes the damaged disc and replaces it with an implant that mimics the flexible joint and maintains movement instead of fusing two bones together like an ACDF surgery. This metal implant is made of two metallic pieces which adhere to the vertebral bodies and contains a medical grade plastic ball center that allows for movement.
The specific advantages of the artificial disc replacement are to maintain the motion, maximize function, and minimize the long-term risks to the discs above and below this level.
- Fusion Sparing Surgery
- Reduces Stress on Adjacent Spinal discs
- 90% Success Rate in Alleviating Pain
- Reduced Blood Loss
- Minimal Incision and Scarring
- Faster Return to Work
What Are the Indications For Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement?
- Significant Neck Pain That Radiates Into The Arms
- At Least 6 Weeks Of Nonsurgical Treatment
- Only One Or Two Levels Of The Neck Affected
- Suitable General Health for Safe Anesthesia
How Is The Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement Performed?
A 3 cm incision is made in the front of the neck and an approach is made to the vertebral bones of the cervical spine. Damaged disc and any bone spurs pressing on the spinal cord or nerves are decompressed and removed. Once the disc is prepared, a durable plastic and metal device that moves in a similar fashion to the natural disc is inserted into the disc space. The procedure and device allow Dr. Rodriguez to remove the pain-generating disc and take the pressure off the spinal cord and the nerves while maintaining a motion similar to the original disc.
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What Is The Recovery After Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement?
Generally, patients are kept overnight for observation and pain control with medicine in their veins. However, one could go home the same day if they are recovered from anesthesia and their pain is well controlled with pain pills. Most patients will wear a soft collar for 2 weeks. Patients may return to light duty work as early as 2 weeks (if necessary). Dr. Rodriguez typically recommends that patients return to light duty jobs by 6 weeks and heavy lifting positions by 3-6 months.
What Are The Risks of Cervical Artificial Disk Replacement?
The cervical artificial disc replacement surgery, like any other surgical procedure, has certain potential risks and complications associated with it. Dr. Rodriguez will discuss all potential risks of surgery and answers all of your concerns prior to any decision to move forward with surgery.
Risks and complications that are possible with cervical artificial disc replacement surgery are minimal and include but are not limited to:
- Post-Surgical Infection
- Swallowing Problems
- Nerve Damage
Dr. Rodriguez uses nerve monitoring during surgery to minimize risks to the spinal cord, vocal cords and nerves.