A cervical artificial disc is an alternative for select patients who require spine surgery to treat a herniated cervical disc. When a disc is damaged, herniated (ruptures), or affected by spinal osteoarthritis (spondylosis) or degenerative disc disease, fragile spinal nerve roots and/or the spinal cord (myelopathy) can become compressed, pinched, or trapped. Nerve compression can cause pain in the neck, shoulders, upper back and arms (radiculopathy). Pain can be accompanied by sensations such as numbness and tingling, or muscle weakness in the arm.
Keep in mind: While neck pain is a common problem, most patients respond well to nonsurgical treatment and do not require spine surgery.
An artificial disc is designed to mimic a human cervical intervertebral disc. One advantage is an artificial disc helps preserve neck motion at the surgical level. In fact, another name for this technology is a nonfusion device. Unlike traditional cervical fusion that fuses or joins two vertebral bodies into one unmovable segment, an artificial disc:
Artificial discs are made from different materials including surgical grade stainless steel, titanium, and polyurethane. Often, the metal components make up the endplates, which secures the artificial disc between two vertebral bodies. A ball-like or similar construct is made from metal and/or polyurethane to serve as the nucleus for the artificial disc. Polyurethane is a durable, tough - yet resilient material with elastic-like properties.
When a damaged cervical disc is surgically removed (discectomy) and an artificial disc is implanted, nerve and/or spinal cord compression is relieved. The device stabilizes the cervical spine, restores and preserves lost intervertebral body disc height and motion, and acts much like a human disc to absorb and distribute stress.
Few patients with neck pain or related symptoms require cervical spine surgery. Only a spine surgeon can determine if surgery or a cervical artificial disc is right for you. Some patients may be considered if:
After surgery for cervical artificial disc replacement, the patient can anticipate a 1-2 day stay in the hospital. Upon discharge, the patient can anticipate restrictions in driving, working, exercising and lifting.
Keep in mind: This overview is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your doctor or surgeon. We welcome questions about our team of spine specialists and the superb patient care Piedmont Spine Center provides.