Dr. Greg Khounganian, Spine Surgeon February 1, 2023
As an alternative to spinal fusion, Cervical Disc Replacement
may be considered to replace a degenerated or damaged disc in the upper spine with an artificial disc.
Here’s what to know about cervical disc replacement.
What happens during cervical disc replacement surgery?
Believe it or not, replacing a disc in your upper spine can be safely done in an outpatient setting. Before the procedure begins you will be given general anesthesia so that you are not awake during surgery. You will lie on your back, and a small incision is made in the neck.
A lighted microscope is guided between the muscles of your spine. First, the damaged disc is removed. This will take all pressure off the nerve roots, and create space for the artificial disc. Then the artificial disc will be inserted into the space. Your physician will suture the incision, and you’ll be sent to the recovery room.
Benefits of Cervical Disc Replacement
There are many benefits of disc replacement in the upper spine. The chief benefit, which makes it an attractive option to eligible candidates is that it preserves motion in the spine because the artificial disc works like a natural disc. Unlike spinal fusion surgery, which uses a bone graft to fuse adjacent vertebrae together, with disc replacement surgery, no fusion is necessary.
Eliminates Risk of Bone Grafts
Fusion surgeries rely on successful bone grafts. However, on occasion, the bones don’t fuse together properly following a bone graft. With an artificial cervical disc replacement, there is no need for bone grafting so the risk of a graft failing to fuse the vertebrae is eliminated.
Because artificial disc replacement in the cervical spine is a minimally invasive surgery, often done in an outpatient setting, the recovery is faster. You can go home the same day. When compared to fusion surgery, most patients who undergo disc replacement are cleared for activities to resume in six weeks, compared with three months or longer after fusion surgery.
Reduced Risk of Adjacent Disc Disease
Studies have shown that artificial discs are less likely to produce degeneration in adjacent discs when compared to fusion surgeries. This is because artificial discs help maintain range of motion, thereby avoiding undue stress on nearby discs.
Am I a candidate for cervical disc replacement?
Candidates for artificial disc replacement in the cervical spine generally meet the following criteria:
You have exhausted all conservative treatments
You have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease or herniated disc
Pain and stiffness extend beyond your neck, into your shoulders, arms, or hands
You haven’t had previous spinal surgeries
You do not have significant facet joint disease
You are in good overall health
You do not have scoliosis
You are at a healthy weight
As the criteria indicated, this surgery is often very well tolerated and successful for young people, in good health, decent shape, and free from age-related wear and tear. Likewise, it is a popular choice for athletes, as the recovery time is faster, and motion of the neck is preserved.
Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery in Los Angeles
Board-Certified Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon Dr. Greg Khounganian, MD provides Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement surgery in Los Angeles.
Schedule a consultation today by calling 818-343-4430