To better understand cervical disc replacement, you’ll want to know about the spine and the cervical region. The spinal column provides the body’s main support structure. It contains five regions with the first region refer to as the cervical region, which involves the neck.
The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae or bones. They stack on top of each other. In between the vertebrae is a disc with soft cartilage. It acts like a cushion or shock absorber as your neck moves.
Why a Prompts the Need for a Cervical Disc Replacement?
The cervical disc can become damaged for various reasons. It could be a cervical disc herniation, bone spurs called osteophytes, or both. To help absorb the shocks, a healthy and undamaged disc contains about 80 percent water. Aging can cause a disc to become dehydrated. As a result, it won’t absorb shock well leading to chronic neck pain and other symptoms.
The space between the vertebrae can narrow to the point that part of the bone or cervical disc collapses or bulges out on the spinal nerve or cord. This causes pain, numbness, or weakness. If minimally invasive spine procedures and nonsurgical treatment do not alleviate the symptoms, the surgeon may recommend cervical disc replacement.
How Cervical Disc Replacement Works
Also known as cervical disc arthroplasty or total disc arthroplasty, a cervical disc replacement is a surgical procedure for removing a damaged or degenerated cervical disc. The surgeon will replace it with an artificial disc. The goal of the procedure is to relieve nerve compression while retaining the neck’s natural movements.
Before disc replacement received approval from the FDA, surgeons would do a fusion to meld the bones together. The advantage of disc replacement is that it may allow more movement without adding stress on the rest of the cervical spine.
During a cervical disc replacement procedure, the patient will be asleep. The procedure can last a few hours. The surgeon makes an incision on the side or front of the neck and moves any structures out of the way. This lets the surgeon see the vertebrae and cervical disc. At this point, the surgeon removes the cervical disc and inserts the artificial one in its place. The procedure ends with a suture to close the incision.
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