Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement is a minimally invasive procedure that removes damaged or diseased discs and replaces them with specialized, artificial disc technology that is tailored to a patient’s specific anatomical requirements.
While it cannot treat spinal instability, it may be performed to treat the following conditions:
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Spinal Stenosis
- Disc Herniation
- Radiculopathy (tingling/numbness in the arms)
Artificial cervical disk surgeries are meant to keep the motion active at the spine segment, as compared to fusion in which a spine segment is fused. When a segment is fused, there is increased movement on the levels above and below which may lead to earlier degeneration or disease of those segments causing subsequent problems.
Artificial cervical disk is meant to prevent those issues from developing. Though the artificial disk is a comparatively new procedure, but there is enough research to show that in patients who are a good candidate for such a surgery, these surgeries can help a lot, giving results like what fusion has been giving for a long time.
Well-performed surgeries on cervical disk have good results in majority of cases. Rate od success can be jeopardized if the patient has involvement of multiple levels, in the presence of chronic diseases, smoking etc.
The risk of surgery include bleeding, infection, failure of fusion or failure of implant requiring another surgery, incomplete resolution of symptoms, neck or back pain, nerve damage leading to reversible or irreversible weakness in either extremity, involvement of bowel or bladder or weakness in lower extremity, hoarseness of voice. Patients may also have difficulty in swallowing or eating with sore throat for a few days.
Risk of anesthesia may include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, Sore throat or hoarseness, difficult recovery. There are rare but severe risks like involvement of brain in the form of stroke or hemorrhage, cardiac arrhythmias, paralysis or even death.
Patients who undergo cervical spine surgery, can do basic activities of daily living as soon as possible. They will have to take pain medications in their early post-op period. These pain medications will cause some sedation, but patients can able to take care of activities of daily living as early as two to three days after the surgery. Regarding driving, patient can get back to driving once they are free of narcotic pain medications and are able to turn their neck side to side comfortably. This may take up to two to three weeks after the surgery or longer depending on the severity of the problem as well as the complexity of the surgery. You should consult your doctor regarding this.
Patients with cervical spine surgery do have restrictions with regards to activity, as well as the amount of work that they can do. These restrictions are usually relaxed as the patient progresses into the healing phase. Bone healing usually takes about three months, and that is a time at which the patient is usually allowed gradually progressive unrestricted activity, depending on how well he has recovered with the movement, as well as strength as well as recovery in the symptoms.
Patients are encouraged to do the activities of daily living within two to three days of surgery. At the same time, patients are encouraged not to overdo things. Patients can get involved with gradually increasing normal household chores within two to three weeks of surgery.
Patients usually stop using pain medications within a week of surgery. They start beginning the range of motion of their neck within two to three weeks, and they are symptom-free with regard to their tingling/numbness in their arms within two to five days after the surgery. Patients are able to get back to normal household activity and activities of daily living in two to three weeks. Patients can return back to desk-type job within four to six weeks, and patients requiring heavy work may take about three to four months before returning back to their jobs.
Patients are not required to start their physical therapy till two weeks after the surgery. After two weeks of surgery, physician reexamination will help in making a decision if the patient requires physical therapy or not. Many of the patients do not require physical therapy after the surgery.
Patient, if completely treated and healed with artificial disk replacement, usually will last for the lifelong. Patients who develop problems after artificial disk shall need physician supervision.