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Artificial Disc Replacement and Surgery

If you have been diagnosed with Symptomatic Cervical Disc Disease (SCDD) or Lumbar Disc Disease, you may be a candidate to receive artificial disc surgery (disc arthroplasty) instead of spinal fusion surgery.

Microsurgical Spine Center’s board-certified orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons are spine specialists and experts in performing this procedure.

What is Artificial Disc Surgery?

Artificial disc replacement surgery is an FDA-approved procedure that’s either performed on the lower back (lumbar spine) or the neck (cervical spine).

The procedure substitutes a disc in the patient’s back with an artificial replica to mimic the form and function of the spine’s natural disc. This will help reduce a patient’s back pain and reduce the risk of other spinal issues and degenerative disc disease down the road.

What are the Differences Between a Natural Spinal Disc and an Artificial Disc?

Your natural spinal discs are soft cushioning structures located between the individual bones of the spine, called “vertebra”. They are made of cartilage-like tissues with a tough outer portion, called the annulus fibrosus, containing gel-like center, called the nucleus pulposus.

Artificial discs are usually made of metal or plastic-like (biopolymer) materials, or a combination of the two. Designed to imitate the form and function of the spine’s natural disc, the artificial disc is surgically implanted between the vertebrae of the spine to replace the natural spinal disc.

The Different Types of Artificial Disc Replacements

There are two types of artificial disc designs used today:

  1. Total Disc Replacement – the majority, if not all of the disc tissue, is removed and a replacement device is implanted into the space between the vertebrae.
  2. Disc Nucleus Replacement – only the nucleus in the center of the natural disc is removed and replaced with an implant.

Benefits of Artificial Disc Surgery

There are many benefits of artificial disc replacement surgery. They include:

  • Patients can usually return to normal activities in a few weeks
  • Artificial disc replacement can be less invasive and less painful than other surgical alternatives
  • Patients do not need a brace
  • Disc replacement surgery prevents degeneration of adjacent discs
  • Artificial disc surgery often enables patients who have degenerative disc disease to recover and get back on their feet faster than with spinal fusion surgery

Risks of Artificial Disc Surgery

As with any surgery, there are risks. Risks include blood clots, breathing problems, infection, and/or damage to spinal nerves. Smoking can increase the risks involved with any surgery. The risks associated with artificial disc surgery are no higher than the risks involved with spinal fusion.

Artificial disc surgery is approved by the FDA and deemed to be safe and effective. The long-term results are not yet known. However, for patients suffering from spinal disease, the benefits commonly outweigh the risks.

Contact Our Spinal Experts

If you have questions about artificial disc surgery or other acute or chronic back pain, please contact us here or call 253-841-8939 to speak with one of our dedicated Medical Concierges to ask questions, learn the cost of artificial disc surgery, or schedule an appointment.