Artificial disc surgery is a relatively new procedure in the United States. As the FDA has approved several brands of artificial discs since 2004, the surgery has steadily gained popularity. Also called artificial disc replacement, or ADR, surgery, artificial disc surgery may be considered when one of the soft, spongy intervertebral discs that normally cushion the vertebrae becomes deteriorated to the point of causing severe pain and disability.
Historically, the treatment plan of choice for severely damaged discs has been a spinal fusion. In this surgery, a team of surgeons removes the affected disc and fuses the neighboring vertebrae together with bone grafts. As a result, the patient experiences a loss of flexibility.
As an alternative to a massively invasive procedure like traditional open spinal fusion, physicians have two different options for patients to consider: artificial disc surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery. With artificial disc surgery, a team of surgeons accesses the affected disc – again through open back surgery – and surgically removes the damaged disc. Then, surgeons replace the problematic disc with a prosthetic, or manmade, disc. Theoretically, the artificial disc allows patients to retain their flexibility and diminish the additional stress placed on the rest of the spine.
However, if artificial disc surgery is performed as an intrusive open back procedure, patients need to consider the potential risks and downsides of the operation:
- Higher risk of infection compared to minimally invasive surgery
- Possibility of failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS)
- Lengthy recovery and rehabilitation
- Requires hospitalization
- And more
On the other hand, there is an alternative to traditional open spinal fusion and artificial disc surgery. Minimally invasive spine procedures from Laser Spine Institute are outpatient forms of orthopedic surgery, which utilize lasers to surgically treat deteriorated spinal discs without the lengthy recovery of open back surgery. To learn more about all of your minimally invasive spine surgery options, and for your MRI review, contact Laser Spine Institute today.