What is artificial disc replacement spine surgery?


Quick Answer

Artificial disc replacement surgery is a procedure where a doctor removes a spinal disc from a patient's neck and replaces it with an artificial disc, according to WebMD. This artificial disc is metal, and works and moves almost identically to a real disc.

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Full Answer

The reason for most disc replacement surgery is due to a disc pressing the spinal cord or pinching the nerve, explains WebMD. To perform this surgery, a discectomy, the doctor locates the disc, and then cuts a small incision in the front or back of the neck. The doctor removes the disc and places the metal disc before closing up the incision with stitches.

As of 2015, research shows that an artificial disc may improve arm and neck pain, and allows a greater range of motion than similar surgeries, such as a cervical fusion, states WebMD. People with an artificial disc also tend to return to work more quickly than those who undergo a cervical fusion. However, artificial disc surgery takes longer, and may lead to more blood loss, which is more dangerous. Not all people are candidates for an artificial disc, and those with conditions such as joint disease, osteoporosis, infections or a stainless steel allergy should opt for another surgery, such as a cervical fusion.

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