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What is Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement?

neck pain, spine doctor

Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement, sometimes referred to as Total Disc Arthroplasty, is a relatively new offering in the United States. The procedure involves replacing a damaged intervertebral disc with one that is human-made. People suffering from neck pain now have another choice beyond Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF), as artificial disc insertion eliminates the need for fusion. The FDA has granted full approval for device use; six different companies produce artificial discs currently, with more types under development.

The artificial disc has two specially shaped metallic pieces. One each is fastened to the upper and lower vertebrae with screws or a press-fit anchor. The two metal faces can contact each other directly or have a section of high-grade plastic between them.

Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement surgery is like ACDF technique-wise. The physician creates an incision on the front side of the neck, allowing access to extract the damaged disc and other excess matter. Next, the now-empty disc space is expanded to normal width using X-ray (fluoroscopy) for guidance. The artificial disc is then implanted. Individuals can usually be released home 24 hours after the procedure is complete.

Clinical research shows success rates for Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement the same as for ACDF. The surgery is most effective when performed by a surgeon well-trained in the technique. Appropriate candidates for the procedure are identified based on symptoms and level of disc degeneration.

Some of the advantages of having Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement are:

  • Decreased potential for repeat surgery because of device issues
  • No bone graft needed
  • Possible reduction of disc degeneration above and below the implant site as fusion is unnecessary
  • Faster resolution of postoperative swallowing problems

The downside of using artificial discs is that their longevity is unknown. Because disc material is human-made, recalls or other related problems could also occur.

If you have been experiencing worsening neck pain and would like to find out about our treatment choices, please contact us at either our Seguin or New Braunfels clinic locations.

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