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Dr. Jazini Answers Your Questions On Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement For Neck Conditions

Authored by Dr. Ehsan Jazini, MD, FACS. December 29, 2021

Discs are the soft tissue cushions in your spine that allow for motion. They can degenerate due to life’s aging process causing bulging which can put pressure on the nearby spinal cord or nerves. This nerve compression can often cause symptoms which may include pain, numbness, and/or tingling in the neck, shoulders, or arms. Cervical Disc Replacement is an exciting alternative to spinal fusion that allows you to maintain motion and limit stress to the surrounding discs.

What is an Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement?Dr. Jazini holding up a cervical disc replacement to the camera

An Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement is a type of spine surgery in which a spine surgeon removes the damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial disc that closely mimics the natural human disc and allows for natural motion of the spine. These discs serve as a cushion and shock absorber between the vertebrae (bones) in the neck. Once the degenerated or damaged disc is removed it is replaced with an artificial disc. The artificial disc mimics and very closely resembles that of a natural human disc. The artificial disc is made up of a polycarbonate urethane middle surrounded by titanium.

When Would You Opt for an Artificial Disc Replacement Instead of a Spinal Fusion for a Neck Condition?

An Artificial Disc Replacement is a suitable option for patients with a prominence of arm symptoms (radiating, burning, tingling and numbness) over isolated neck pain, where their hinges or facet joints in their neck are healthy. Some conditions that benefit from a cervical disc replacement are:

  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Disc Herniations
  • Radiculopathy
  • Failed Prior Surgery (Failed Fusion)
  • Multi-level damages
  • Prior Fusion on Adjacent Levels

What is The Success Rate of an Artificial Disc Replacement for Neck Conditions?

The success rate for artificial cervical disc replacements is over 95 percent. This groundbreaking surgical method improves strength and resolves numbness and associated arm symptoms (ie; arm weakness, tingling, burning, numbness). With this advanced technology, it allows us surgeons to offer more effective treatment options than available in the past.

What Are The Advantages of an Artificial Disc Replacement for Neck Conditions? 

  • Preserves the natural range of motion in the neck
  • Reduces stress on the adjacent levels above and below
  • Quicker recovery to return to everyday life, activities, work, and sports/exercise
  • Greater functionality with no limitations

How Much Motion is Lost With a Spinal Fusion vs. an Artificial Disc Replacement?

With a spinal fusion, approximately 10 degrees of motion is lost in the neck, per level fused. For example, if a person has three levels of their spine fused, that equates to a 30% loss of natural motion of the spine. The human body was designed to move, and as surgeons, preserving that motion in the spine whenever we can is inherently beneficial.

Virginia Spine Institute is at the forefront of minimally-invasive disc replacement surgery. We were one of the first practices in the country performing single-level and multiple-level disc replacements. The creativity in our approach to treatment allows patients to receive the most custom solution for their specific condition. In some instances, we combine disc replacement with spinal fusion, known as hybrid spine surgery. Artificial disc replacements provide the benefits of improving range of motion and flexibility after surgery and potentially decrease the risk for additional issues and surgeries in the future.

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About The Author

Dr. Ehsan Jazini, MD, FACS

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