Cervical Disc Replacement
The cervical spine is made of seven bones called as cervical vertebrae, which is piled on top of each other in the neck area.
Cervical disc replacement is a surgical procedure which involves in removing a damaged cervical disc and replacing it with an artificial disc. Cervical discs act as the cushion between the bones of the neck. Discs that get damaged due to various reasons can cause a lot of pain since the disc could move out of its original position causing a lot of pressure on the central spinal cord and at each vertebral level. Disc disruption can be a source of neck pain and can also cause neurological problems such as pain, numbness that starts from the neck passing through either the arms or one of it.
The initial treatment for this cervical disc symptom suggested by the doctors would be exercises and medications. But if the pain persists to continue for more than 6-12 weeks it is advisable to consider the option of surgery.
Procedure and Recovery:
The method used by the doctors for cervical disc replacement is an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion technique approach, whereby, they do the incision from the front of the neck which allows them to remove the damaged disc and the protruding disc which gives a great relief to the patient. In this kind of approach, a plate with screws is applied to the front of the spine to provide stability which helps in gaining solid fusion. The patient is under rest for a couple of days till the fusion is healed which is determined by an X-ray.
Until recently, the doctors use the method known as total disc arthroplasty approved by FDA which is similar to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion except the defect that is created by removing the disc between the two vertebrae is replaced with a disc replacement device. This device allows for free movement among the two vertebrae which is to be maintained and avoids the need of fusion.
The cervical disc replacement is performed on general anesthesia and they are discharged from the hospital on the same day or the next morning based on the surgeon’s advice. Pain from the procedure is very minimal and improves well within a short number of days. Most patients are capable of returning back to work within a couple of week’s time after a good rest.