During cervical spine surgery, the surgeon removes the disc through an incision in the front or back of the neck while the patient is under anesthesia, according to WebMD. Options for filling the space of the disc include spinal fusion or disc replacement with an artificial one.
The artificial disc reduces the recovery time from surgery. Disc replacement results in the same or more flexibility of the neck as with cervical fusion, and it is equally as safe and effective, states WebMD. Disc replacement surgery takes longer, so there is an increased risk of blood loss. If the replacement does not provide relief of the symptoms, the patient has the option of spinal fusion. However, a spinal fusion patient cannot have an artificial disc in the same joint later.
Abnormalities in one or more discs are the cause of cervical spine disease, explains WebMD. Injuries to the disc, due to arthritis or unknown causes, may cause pain, inflammation or muscle spasms. In severe cases, pressure on root nerves causes numbness in the arm. In over 90 percent of patients with spinal disc disease, the problem improves over time without surgery. However, in the remaining patients, conservative treatments do not work, and the symptoms worsen.