Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery - The Procedure
The procedure for cervical disc replacement surgery consists of removing the problem disc entirely and replacing it with a piece of bone taken either from the patient's hip and a metal plate with screws and/or a cervical collar may also be used to help hold the bone in place and to allow this segment of the neck to fuse together. The purpose of an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery is twofold:
This type of surgery typically improves the pain in over 90% of people with one-level disease. However, there may be complications in using bone grafts in pursuit of a fusion. Harvest of one's own bone may be associated with both acute and potentially long-term pain from the donor site. Any type of bone graft may fail to heal, resulting in a so-called 'non-union', which may require another fusion operation.
Also, by fusing a segment of the spine, the levels of the spine above and below the fused area are now forced to absorb more load since there is no longer any intervening motion shock absorption. These adjacent levels will then wear out and become symptomatic in more than 25% of these patients within ten years, meaning possibly more surgery. This is called adjacent-segment degeneration.
The development of artificial cervical discs is intended to accomplish the same objectives as the traditional decompression and fusion surgery in terms of providing pain relief and stability, but with fewer drawbacks. For example, the cervical artificial disc does not include the potential complications involved with using bone graft (e.g. 'non-unions') and theoretically should lessen the risk of developing adjacent-segment disc degeneration or disease.