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What happens during spinal disc replacement surgery?

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Quick Answer

During a spinal disc replacement surgery, a doctor removes the offending disc through a small cut in the front or back of the neck, according to WebMD. The doctor then replaces the disc with an artificial cervical disc replacement device.

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Full Answer

The artificial disc is metal, and it moves and looks like the real disc, explains WebMD. This device helps to improve arm and neck pain and allows for more range of motion than other procedures, such as a cervical fusion. Those who choose an artificial disc often recover more quickly following the surgery, and those who wish to do so can opt for cervical fusion later.

Disc surgery is usually safe, but there are risks as there are with all surgeries, including infection, bleeding, chronic neck pain and reactions to anesthesia, states WebMD. Other risks include failure to heal or damage to the nerves, esophagus, the spinal cord or vocal cords. This surgery is not a permanent treatment for disc issues, and approximately one-quarter of all patients who have the surgery develop the disease again within the next decade.

Most people who have cervical disc surgery go home the same day or possibly the morning following the surgery, notes WebMD. Pain around the surgery area is common, but it tends to ease over time. The doctor should tell the patient what he can and cannot do during the healing process to promote the healing of the surgical site.

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