Almost half the population is experiencing pain in and around the neck area. When this neck pain extends to the shoulder or arm resulting into numbness and weakness, it is often due to compression on the spinal nerve or nerve root by a bone spur or herniated disc. In case when the conventional method such as rehabilitation and over the counter medication fails surgery is the best option for some patients.
What is cervical disc replacement surgery?
An artificial cervical disc replacement is a procedure where a painful disc in the neck is removed and is replaced with a new and artificial one. In many cases the surgeon can also remove any bone spurs and elongate the disc space. This helps in relieving the pressure on the nerves and the nerve roots. Most of the surgeon has an anterior approach to reach the cervical spine as it allows greater visibility of problem area. The approach is quite similar to spinal Discectomy and fusion procedure.
The artificial disc was made to function similarly to the natural disc and therefore can maintain close to normal mobility and also acting as a buffer between two adjacent vertebrae. The ACDF procedure is still quiet new and needs many clinical trials to determine if there are any further, long-term benefits or risks. The cervical disc replacement surgery has shown good results in many cases as the current quality level methodology, spinal Discectomy with combination, as far as side effect administration and rate of intricacies after surgery.
Spinal Discectomy and fusion vs. cervical disc replacement
The spinal fusion procedure has been acknowledged as the gold standard surgical procedure for patients with cervical disc disease. The procedure entails the removal of painful affected disc followed by the fusion of the two adjacent vertebrae with a bone graft and metal plate. Spinal fusion has been shown to be very effective in relieving symptoms;
The primary problem associated with the procedure is that the mobility of the neck is reduced to a great extent. It is also a possibility that the levels above or below the fusion may later on develop disc problems, as they must take more load and motion to compensate for the fused level. This may necessitate treatment or even another surgery in future.
To overcome the above complications, cervical disc replacement was developed. The artificial disc provides shock absorption and is also helpful in retaining the mobility in the neck. The procedure is believed to reduce the trauma to the adjacent vertebrae and potentially reduces the patient’s probability of future complications at other cervical levels. As compared to other surgical procedure it also eliminates the need for a bone graft, which can take up to three months to one year to solidify completely. Patient who has undergone a cervical disc replacement can later remove the artificial disc and fuse the adjacent vertebrae together. But once a patient has undergone a surgery for fusion, they cannot undergo a cervical disc replacement.
Who is a candidate for cervical disc replacement?
Every individual patient suffering from cervical disc disease may not need surgery to manage their symptoms. The right candidates must be having severe neck pain or severe pain, numbness, or weakness that radiates down to the shoulder and arm area. The patients must have tried conservative treatment methods such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, spinal interventions, etc. for at least 4-6 weeks which has not shown improved indication.
Recovery after cervical disc replacements
Almost in most of the cases the recovery is relatively quick. The patient is able to walk. They can stand and can walk after few hours of the procedure. In almost ninety five percent cases the patient is allowed to return home the same day. Most of the patients return to their regular activities the same day or within a week’s time. There could be pain near the incision site and would decrease as the time passes by.