What is a Cervical Disc Replacement?

Cervical disc replacement, also known as cervical arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure performed to treat cervical disc degeneration or herniation in the neck region of the spine. It involves replacing a damaged or deteriorated cervical disc with an artificial disc implant. This procedure aims to relieve pain, restore motion, and maintain the stability of the cervical spine. 

What is the Procedure for a Cervical Disc Replacement?

  1. Anesthesia: The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia.
  2. Incision: A small incision is made in the front of the neck (anterior approach) to access the cervical spine.
  3. Disc Removal: The damaged cervical disc is removed, along with any disc material pressing on nerves or the spinal cord.
  4. Artificial Disc Insertion: An artificial disc made of metal and plastic components is implanted in the empty disc space. This implant allows for controlled motion and serves as a replacement for the natural disc.
  5. Closure: The incision is closed with sutures, and a dressing is applied.

What are the Benefits of a Cervical Disc Replacement?

  • Pain Relief: The primary goal of cervical disc replacement is to alleviate neck and arm pain caused by disc-related conditions.
  • Preservation of Motion: Unlike traditional cervical fusion, which restricts motion, disc replacement aims to preserve natural neck motion, potentially reducing the risk of adjacent segment degeneration.
  • Quicker Recovery: Cervical disc replacement typically involves a shorter recovery period compared to fusion surgery.

What is the Risk of a Cervical Disc Replacement?

  • Infection: As with any surgery, there’s a risk of infection at the surgical site.
  • Implant Failure: Artificial discs can experience wear and tear over time, potentially leading to implant failure or the need for revision surgery.
  • Adjacent Segment Degeneration: While disc replacement aims to reduce the risk, there’s still a possibility of degeneration in nearby spinal segments.
  • Nerve or Vascular Injury: Surgery carries inherent risks of nerve or blood vessel injury, although these risks are minimized through careful surgical techniques.

What does Recovery from a Cervical Disc Replacement look like?

  • After surgery, patients may stay in the hospital for a short period for monitoring and pain management.
  • Physical therapy may be prescribed to help regain neck strength, flexibility, and motion.
  • Most patients can return to light activities within a few weeks and resume normal activities within a few months.

    Cervical disc replacement is an option for eligible candidates seeking relief from cervical spine conditions while preserving neck motion. However, the decision to undergo this procedure should be made after thorough consultation with a qualified spine surgeon, who can provide personalized advice based on the individual’s medical history and condition.