The Today Show features a Virginia Spine Institute patient who speaks out about her inspiring journey to overcome her spinal condition! Click to watch.

Insights To Help Get You Back To Your Life.

About The Author

Share This Post

Dr. Schuler Performs Region’s First Three-Level Cervical Disc Replacement

Authored by Dr. Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS. December 10, 2020

BREAKING NEWS–December 2, 2020, Reston, Virginia — Dr. Thomas Schuler performed the first three-level artificial cervical disc replacement in the mid-Atlantic region.  His patient had suffered from significant neck pain with headaches for 3 years prior to surgery. The symptoms started to include her arms, with radiating pain, numbness, and tingling.  She failed to make lasting improvements with diligent physical therapy, medications, rest, time, and activity modification. She was diagnosed with significant disc degeneration at C4/5, C5/6, and C6/7 (the 3 most common levels to degenerate and become problematic). Dr. Schuler was hopeful to perform an arthroplasty at all three levels, but counseled the patient on the possibility of a hybrid construct, which is a combination of fusion and arthroplasty implants.  During surgery, he was able to replace all three levels with the M6, motion-preserving implant.  She tolerated the surgery well, was discharged from the hospital the following day, and is home recovering as expected.

What is a three-level ACDR, or disc replacement? 

A disc replacement procedure is similar to a fusion procedure in that the damaged disc is removed in its entirety and something is put in its place.  The ‘something’ is where these two surgeries differ.  In a fusion surgery, the empty space is filled with a stabilizer, usually a combination of a cage filled with bone graft which either screws into the bones above and below or a plate is screwed into the bones to hold everything in place as it heals.  The specific items used to stabilize the spine can vary, but the purpose is the same, which is to allow the bone graft to grow and connect to the bones above and below the disc space.  The goal is for that segment to become one solid piece of bone that does not move.  

With a disc replacement procedure, the empty space is not actually filled with a new disc that is made of cartilage and ligament like the native disc.  Instead, the empty space is filled with a motion-preserving implant.  These implants are a similar concept to a hip or knee replacement, in that they allow for motion to be maintained.  The goal of a disc replacement or arthroplasty procedure is to allow for the restoration of a more natural type of motion.

The benefits of restoring motion include improving the function of the patient through movement, less down time after surgery, and transferring less additional stress to the remaining discs in the spine.  Disc replacements can be done both in the cervical spine (ACDR) and lumbar spine (LDR).

There are a number of considerations your spine surgeon will review when contemplating an ACDR.  Some of these include:

  1. What is the degree of disc degeneration and how does that impact the patient’s motion?  If the segment is not moving preoperatively, a motion-preserving implant may not be worthwhile if there is no motion to preserve.
  2. What is the alignment of the spine?  Some alignment pathologies are best fixed with a fusion procedure to restore a more natural alignment and proper balance.
  3. Has there been a surgery at or near the disc level of pathology and how might that effect the new implant?
  4. Is there severe stenosis?  How much pressure must be taken off of the neural elements and does this impact the structures surrounding the implant needed for stabilization.

After an ACDR, patients often stay just one night in the hospital for observation.  They go home from the hospital with a foam collar just for comfort, but is not required for healing.  Patients are instructed to take it easy and avoid aggressive activities for about 6 weeks, but can begin working from home as soon as the effects of anesthesia have worn off.  Feeling comfortable driving to work and completing a full day at a desk job often occurs after 2 weeks. Walking is encouraged immediately following surgery.  The timing of increasing to a more vigorous fitness routine is based on the patient’s individual recovery and number of levels replaced.  Once recovered, the goal is for the patient to return to their desired lifestyle, however smart choices are encouraged to avoid future injuries. If you are suffering from chronic neck or back pain, schedule a consultation with a spine specialist. 

About The Author

Dr. Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS

Share This Post

Other videos on this topic

Hear Why Patients Chose Virginia Spine Institute to Get Their Life Back

As Seen On Fox 5’s ‘Good Morning DC’: VSI Patient Shares Why She Made Her Spine Health a Priority

The Today Show Features Patient Who Found Relief to Chronic Pain at Virginia Spine Institute

As Seen on ABC News: Virginia Spine Institute Among 1st in the World to Perform Augmented Reality Surgery

Dr. Christopher Good Presents Exciting Results of Robotic-Guided Spine Surgery Study

The Risks of Waiting to Get Spine Treatment

Robotics & Technology in Spine Surgery

What is a Lumbar Spinal Fusion?

What is Flatback Syndrome?

Adult Scoliosis Treatments

Advances in Motion-Preserving Surgery for Neck Pain and Cervical Spine Conditions

Local DVM: Dr. Good Performs Most Advanced Robotic Spine Surgery

NBC 4: Dr. Good Performs Most Advanced Robotic Spine Surgery

Fox 5 News: Dr. Good Performs Most Advanced Robotic Spine Surgery

Endoscopic Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Advances in Spine Surgery

What To Expect After Spine Surgery

What To Expect After Spine Surgery

3 Options for Your Artificial Disc Replacement

Spinal Champion Barbara’s Scoliosis Insight

Spinal Champion, Rita

Spinal Champion Omar’s Medical Diagnosis & Treatment

Enhanced Recovery after Spine Surgery (ERAS)

Dr. Schuler Performs First M6-C™ Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement in DC-Metro

Surgical Scoliosis Treatments

The Spine Surgery that Helped Tiger Woods Get Back on the Golf Course

What is an Artificial Disc Replacement?

What To Bring To The Hospital Before Surgery

When Is Spinal Surgery Necessary For Back or Neck Pain?

When You Should See a Specialist for Back or Neck Pain

When To Call Your Doctor After Surgery

When to Have an Artificial Disc Replacement

WUSA9 Feature of Robotic Technology