Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement
Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement is one of the most recent advances now available in the US for the treatment of cervical disc disease.
Vertebral discs, composed of “cartilaginous” tissue (softer than bones and somewhat flexible, with characteristics similar to connective tissue between muscles and bones), form joints between the bones (vertebrae) of the back and neck, allowing the spine to bend. In cervical disc disease, a disc between neck vertebrae degenerates, with loss of water causing hardening or weakening. The degeneration may simply be the result of aging, but may also be related to injuries or other disorders, such as arthritis.
Effects of cervical disc disease can include pain and reduced flexibility in the affected area. From traumatic events or sometimes with aging, the disc may also herniate (protrude), which, along with compression of the space between vertebrae that healthy discs maintain, can create pressure on the spinal cord or on the spinal nerves that extend from the spine to other parts of the body. Resulting symptoms may include neck pain, radiating pain to the arms, tingling, overall weakness, and reduced strength or mobility.
In most cases surgery is usually recommended for those people that have not responded to conservative treatments, which may include pain medication, rest, and physical therapy. The traditional surgical procedure for cervical disc disease is spinal fusion, in which herniated disc tissue is removed from near the spinal cord and nerve roots. Thereby relieving the abnormal pressure and irritation of these structures, and the space between the vertebrae filled with bone grafts with or without the support of instrumentation which, in combination with natural bone growth, fill the space where the disc was, fusing the two vertebrae together over a period of months following the surgery.
Cervical artificial disc replacement is a newer, alternative treatment in which an artificial disc is implanted between the two vertebrae after the disc is removed. Since the artificial disc functions similarly to a healthy natural disc, the patient may be able to achieve greater mobility than would result from a spinal fusion.
Not everyone is a candidate for artificial disc replacement. Factors that affect the choice of treatment may include the patient’s general health or the overall condition of the spine. Our providers will work closely with the patient and the referring physician to determine the best treatment option.