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Back Pain and Spine Physicians in Colorado
Telephone: (303) 762-0808
Fax: (303) 762-9292
1-866-971-7940
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Alternative to Spinal Fusion: Cervical Disc Replacement

A cervical artificial disc is designed to replace an intervertebral disc damaged by neck disorders such as degenerative disc disease or disc herniation. Cervical disc replacement surgery is an alternative to spinal fusion in carefully selected patients. The Surgeons at Colorado Comprehensive Spine Institute (CCSI) have extensive experience in this new technology and have been involved in early studies about these devices.

  • Spinal fusion fuses or permanently joins two vertebral bodies and eliminates movement at that level.

  • An artificial disc allows movement by mimicking the properties of the human intervertebral disc. In theory, disc replacement protects other discs by sharing the stress during movement. In addition, the cervical spine is stabilized, mobility is maintained, and lost disc height is restored.

There are different artificial disc designs. Implant composition includes hard (metal) and soft (nonmetal) materials.

  • Metal, such as stainless steel
  • Nonmetal, such as polyethylene
  • Combination

An artificial disc replaces the entire intervertebral disc- the annulus fibrosis, nucleus pulposus, and usually the endplates, depending on the type of device.

When Spine Surgery May Be Recommended
Most patients with a cervical problem do not need spine surgery, such as fusion and instrumentation. Some of the reasons why your doctor may recommend cervical spine surgery include:

  • Nonsurgical treatments do not help resolve pain and other symptoms. These treatments include medication, spinal injections, and physical therapy.
  • Neurological symptoms are progressive, worsen and involve the arms and/or legs. These symptoms include numbness, tingling, and/or weakness.
  • You experience problems with balance and have trouble walking.
  • Your general health is good.

Patient Selection is Important
Since cervical artificial discs are not indicated to treat all spinal disorders or patients, evaluation by a skilled spinal surgeon is essential. If an artificial disc is a good choice for you, your surgeon will explain the type of device to be implanted. Along with information about the artificial disc, you will learn about the benefits and risks of the device and procedure. For example, current designs are only approved for use at a single level in the cervical spine when the facet joints and spinal contour is normal.

Possible Risks and Complications
Any surgical or medical procedure presents risks. Your surgeon will explain what your personal risks are so you can make an informed decision.

Conclusion
Our surgeons use the latest technologies in spine care and believe cervical artificial discs benefit carefully selected patients. If you have questions, please talk to your surgeon to find out if cervical disc replacement is appropriate to treat your spinal disorder.

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By using this website, you acknowledge that you have read and agreed to the terms of our legal disclaimer. The information provided is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. For additional health information, please contact our office.