Artificial Cervical Disk Replacement

Artificial cervical disc replacement is a procedure that removes a damaged disk in the neck and replaces it with an artificial disk. Surgeons will make incisions in the front of the neck and remove the disc. Once removed, the surgeon will create some height in the neck to insert the artificial disk and decompress the nerves in the neck.

What is it?

An artificial cervical disc is a device inserted between vertebrae in the neck to replace a damaged disc. The intent of the procedure is to preserve motion at the disc level for patients who have not positively responded to non-surgical options, and whose pain is affecting their daily functioning and quality of life. This procedure is an alternative to a cervical disc fusion, in which disks are fused together, which limits motion.

What should I do to prepare?

Before the procedure, your doctor might ask you to stop taking certain medications, particularly blood thinners. Your doctor might also ask you to quit smoking for a period of time before and after the procedure, and it is not uncommon to be asked to stop eating the midnight before the surgery.

What happens during the process?

Patients undergoing this surgery will be unconscious due to general anesthesia during the duration of the procedure. You may be given a breathing tube to supplement breathing. The skin around the procedure area will be cleaned, and a small incision will be made on the front or side of your neck. The surgeon will locate and remove the damaged cervical disk, and the artificial disk will be placed into the empty disk space. The surgeon will then suture the wound closed; you will proceed to post-op for recovery.

What are the risks and complications?

As with any surgery, artificial cervical disk replacement carries risks, including infection, blood loss, nerve injury or paralysis, reactions to anesthesia, spinal fluid leak, vocal changes, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty breathing. There may be trouble relieving a patient’s pain and symptoms, and there may be a need for further surgery.


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