Everything you must know about cervical disc replacement surgery

cervical disc replacement surgery

Generally, more than 90 percent of people experiencing cervical disc disease get better on their own with the help of simple treatments. If simple treatments fail, the symptoms worsen, and the joints weaken, you will require surgery. Your healthcare provider will recommend you to take the cervical total disc replacement surgery. But what exactly is this procedure? Why do you need it? How to prepare for this procedure? You can gain answers to all your questions in the article below.

What is cervical disc replacement surgery?

Cervical disc replacement surgery is a type of arthroplasty or joint replacement procedure that involves inserting an artificial disc into the intervertebral space. In this procedure, the artificial disc is inserted after the removal of the natural cervical disc. The artificial cervical disc is a prosthetic device treated in the vertebral segment and designed to maintain motion. This disc allows for side bending, rotation, flexion, and extension.

Why is this procedure required?

You require intervertebral discs for the normal functioning and mobility of the neck. In a healthy state, they act as “cushions” for the individual bones of the vertebrae and spine. Both the discs are made up of two parts: nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus. The nucleus pulposus is a gel-like, soft center of the disc. The annulus fibrosus is a fibrous and strong outer ring that supports and surrounds the nucleus pulposus. The discs can be damaged or dried out over time due to genetics, everyday wear and tear and age. These reasons allow the nucleus pulposus to push through the annulus fibrosus. The degeneration of discs also results in osteophytes. If the bone material or the disc impinges on a nearby spinal cord or nerve root, it can cause loss of coordination, pain, numbness, weakness, and muscle spasms at the damaged site or elsewhere in the body.

Who can take this surgery?

Cervical disc replacement surgery might be a suitable option if you are approximately 18 years of age with skeletal maturity and require treatment at one cervical level only. You can also opt for surgery if your symptoms do not improve and if you have been diagnosed with myelopathy or cervical radiculopathy. It will also be suitable if you are not pregnant or nursing at the time of surgery.

How to prepare for this procedure?

Before having the cervical total disc replacement surgery, the surgeon will request the patient to quit smoking. Smoking and using tobacco products can increase the risk of surgical complications like infection and have detrimental effects on the bone. Some medications might need to be stopped temporarily, or the dosages must be reduced days before and during the procedure. For instance, your surgeon might want to know about your medications because they can raise the risk for excessive bleeding and negative reactions with anesthesia. Supplements are also included in this list. The patients’ overall health must be evaluated to ensure they can tolerate the procedure and recovery process.

What is the process of cervical disc replacement surgery?

A single-level cervical artificial disc replacement surgery requires you to lie face up on the table. Additionally, your surgeon will apply general anesthesia so that you won’t feel discomfort or pain during the surgical procedure. The damaged disc is removed after making the 1-to-2 inch incision in front of the neck. Also, osteophytes or disc fragments pressing on the spinal cord or nerve root are removed. The disc space is restored to the normal disc height to relieve pressure on the surrounding nerves. The artificial disc is placed in the prepared disc space with the help of live X-ray imaging. The incision is sewn up after placing and attaching the artificial disc to the two-incision vertebrae. The surgeons or nurses will lead you to the observation room for an hour or two after the surgery is complete.

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Sylvia James