Cervical disc replacement is a surgical procedure that involves removing a damaged or degenerated cervical disc and replacing it with an artificial disc device. Discs that become damaged either through trauma or degeneration can be a source of pain. If part of a disc moves out of its normal position it can cause pressure on the central spinal cord or on the individual nerve roots that exit from the spinal canal at each vertebral level. Over time, the body’s reaction to a disrupted disc is the formation of bone spurs which can also cause pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. Disc disruption and degeneration can be a source of neck pain as well as cause neurologic symptoms which may include pain, numbness or weakness.
Cervical disc replacement is used to treat symptomatic cervical disc disease that has failed to improve with nonsurgical care. It is performed with the patient under general anesthesia. Patients are positioned face up in the operating room and a one to two inch horizontal incision is made on one side of the patient’s neck. The damaged disc is then exposed and removed.
Patients are typically discharged home the same day or the next morning following surgery. Immobilization in a cervical collar for up to a week may be required depending on your surgeon’s discretion. Pain from the procedure is usually limited and improves markedly within two to three days. X-rays are obtained following surgery to confirm proper positioning and functioning of the disc replacement device. Most patients are capable of returning to light work within a week or two of surgery and to full duty six weeks after the procedure.