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Healthy spinal discs provide a cushion and a joint between your adjacent vertebrae. When your discs deteriorate, the space between the vertebrae narrows, compressing and pinching nearby nerves.
To relieve the pain and discomfort caused by the compression, a surgeon can remove and replace the collapsed or herniated disc with an artificial disc that mimics a healthy disc — providing both cushion and joint. The replacement and rebuilding of the joint with an artificial disc is termed cervical disc arthroplasty or cervical artificial disc replacement.
Cervical artificial disc replacement is a type of joint replacement procedure. An artificial disc is placed between two adjacent cervical vertebrae to replace a diseased cervical disc. It is designed to maintain the distance between two adjacent cervical vertebrae. Two artificial cervical discs can be used to replace two diseased cervical discs that are next to each other and require surgery.
Implanting an artificial disc in the neck is serious surgery. The artificial cervical disc is inserted very close to important nerves and blood vessels. Your doctor will be careful to find and protect these nerves and blood vessels, but there is a risk of damage to nerves or blood vessels during the surgery. A small cut to a blood vessel can cause dangerous bleeding (hemorrhage) or even death. Damage to a nerve can cause long-term loss of movement (paralysis) or feeling.
It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications, and benefits of cervical artificial disc replacement with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your physician's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.
During cervical artificial disc replacement surgery, you will lie on your back on an operating table and be put into a deep sleep (general anesthesia). Once you are asleep, your neck area will be washed and a clean (sterile) sheet will be taped around your neck. A cut (incision) about an inch long will be made in the front of your neck and your doctor will move the structures in your neck to the side so he or she can see your spine. Your doctor will surgically remove your damaged or diseased disc and insert an artificial cervical disc into the disc space. The muscle and skin incisions will be sewn together and you will be moved to the recovery room and woken up.
Cervical disc replacement surgery is major surgery requiring a hospital stay. As with any major surgery, you should expect some discomfort and a period of rehabilitation. Your doctor will outline a post-surgery recovery plan to increase your chances of a successful outcome.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.