Artificial disc replacement surgery is performed as a less invasive option for spinal fusion surgery. The goal of the surgery is to replace a worn or degenerated disc with a synthetic implant designed to function in the same way your natural discs do. The advantage of this procedure being that motion in the spine is not reduced as it would be in a traditional spinal fusion surgery performed to treat many of the same conditions an artificial disc replacement does.
The patient is positioned to grant access to the damaged disc via the front of the patient. Through a small incision the diseased disc is removed and the end surfaces of the vertebral bodies are cleaned of damaged cartilage and other debris.
The vertebral body is widened making room for the metal end plates that will hold the new disc in position. Metal implants are positioned in the opening and manipulated carefully into place. The core of the artificial disc is inserted between these plates and the spine is returned to normal height, seating the end plates into the vertebral bone and holding the new prosthesis in place. Once the artificial disc is in place, it is inspected both visually as well as with radiological exams.
One of the major concerns with traditional spinal fusion surgery, and this is seen more often in multilevel fusions, is the reduction in spinal mobility and the extra pressure placed on the adjoining vertebra. When performed to correct vertebral disc injuries or degeneration, an artificial disc replacement is a minimally invasive alternative that helps maintain the spines natural flexibility. Although Artificial Disc Replacement surgery is a great choice for many patients, there are some criteria that may need to be eliminated for you to be considered a candidate. Speak with your doctor to find out if you qualify for this revolutionary surgery to avoid the more complicated recovery that sometimes occurs with traditional open back spinal fusion procedures.