Artificial disc replacement
Artificial disc replacement is an alternative method to traditional spinal fusion for patients who suffer from degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease occurs gradually when the vertebrae of the spine compress the discs in between the vertebrae due to excessive weight gain and repetitive movements. If a disc becomes overly compressed, it may flatten and expand outward, creating pressure inside the disc walls. Over time, the tough outer layer of the disc may split open (called a bulging or herniated disc) and impact a nerve root in the spinal canal. The resulting symptoms include local and radiating pain, as well as numbness and possible tingling in the nearby extremity.
The two main options to treat a damaged disc are a discectomy and a spinal fusion. Because of the highly invasive nature of both of these procedures, you should thoroughly research alternative treatment options before moving forward with a spine surgery.
The benefits of artificial disc replacement
Because of the highly invasive nature of traditional spinal fusion and the increased risks and complications associated with fully metal fusions, medical researchers have worked tirelessly to come up with a safer alternative for patients. One of these solutions is an artificial disc replacement instead of a metal spinal fusion.
Traditional spinal fusion focuses on stabilizing the spine after removing a damaged disc. While the surgery often succeeds in providing stabilization, the spine will forever have a limited range of mobility in the section of the surgery. Additionally, because the surgery requires a very large incision and muscle detachment, the excessive scar tissue that forms during recovery can prevent the fusion from taking hold in the spine. This is referred to as failed back surgery syndrome and is unfortunately more painful than the spine condition itself before surgery.
An artificial disc replacement, also known as disc arthroplasty, helps to stabilize the spine while still maintaining a natural movement and range of motion. Some of the benefits include:
- Maintained flexibility and motion
- Limited stress transference to other spinal segments
- The treatment of neck or back pain and radiculopathy
At Laser Spine Institute, we combine the benefits of artificial disc replacement with our minimally invasive stabilization procedures. When our surgeons access the spine through a small, muscle-sparing incision and remove a damaged disc, we insert an artificial disc into the empty disc space to stabilize the spine. With our procedures, patients experience a safer and effective approach to spinal fusion than with traditional open back fusion.
For more information about our minimally invasive stabilization surgery and how an artificial disc replacement can help you find pain relief, please contact Laser Spine Institute today.