Artificial cervical disc technologies are being developed in an effort to treat symptomatic degenerative disc disease more effectively. The main goal of this type of technology is to maintain spinal motion following anterior discectomy, to reduce the incidence of degeneration of adjacent disc levels of the spine (adjacent-segment disease) and to permit a more rapid return to normal activity.
Surgical Procedure for Cervical Disc Replacement
The standard surgical procedure for a disc replacement is an anterior (from the front) approach to the cervical spine. This surgical approach is the same as that presently used for a discectomy and fusion operation. The affected disc is completely removed, including any impinging disc fragments or osteophytes (bone spurs). The disc space is distracted (kept open) to its prior normal disc height to help decompress (relieve pressure) on the nerves. This is important because when a disc becomes worn out, it will typically shrink in its height, which can also contribute to pinched nerves, leading to neck pain. Cervical surgery relieves this pain by restoring the normal spacing between discs.
At this point, using x-rays or fluoroscopy, the artificial disc device is implanted into the prepared disc space. Postoperatively, the patient can typically go home within 24 to 48 hours with minimal activity limitations.