Total Disc Replacement
The cervical spine is made up of the seven bones, called cervical vertebrae, stacked on top of each other in your neck area. The cervical disks are the cushions that lie between the cervical vertebrae and act as shock absorbers to allow your neck to move freely.
Your cervical spine also forms a protective tunnel for the upper part of your spinal cord to pass through. As your spinal cord passes through this tunnel, it sends out spinal nerves that pass through the openings between the cervical vertebrae. These spinal nerves supply your upper body with sensation and movement.
Cervical disc replacement is done when the space between your vertebrae has become too narrow and part of your vertebrae or your cervical disk is pressing on your spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing you pain, numbness, or weakness.
A one- to two-inch incision (surgical cut) is made on the side or front of your neck. The important structures of the neck are carefully moved to the side until the surgeon can see the bones of the vertebrae and the cervical disk. The cervical disk that is being replaced is removed. The artificial disk is placed into the empty disk space. The incision is closed using absorbable sutures (stitches) under the skin. The skin is then carefully closed with sutures that minimize any scarring. A small dressing is applied over the incision, a rigid or soft neck collar may be put on your neck, and you will be taken to the recovery area.
Using an artificial disk to replace your natural cervical disk is a new type of treatment that has recently been approved by the FDA. In traditional cervical disk surgery, the diseased disk is removed and the cervical vertebrae above and below the disk may be fused together. Disk replacement surgery may have the advantage of allowing more movement and creating less stress on your remaining vertebrae than traditional cervical disk surgery.