Pain in neck is a very common complaint and one of the major causes of disability among people of all ages. Although it can be managed by conservative pain treatment but some patients may fail to get any relief from it. In such cases, disk replacement is the most probable option that can improve patient condition and provide relief from pain.
Cervical disk replacement is a type of surgery that involves replacement of a worn or degenerated cervical disk with an artificial disk. An artificial disk is made of medical-grade metal or a combination of medical-grade metal or plastic. It is a relatively new procedure that is seen as an alternative to the spinal fusion surgery.
Indications for Cervical disk replacement surgery
- Narrowing of space between cervical vertebrae due to cervical disk degeneration, or wear and tear
- Pressing of spinal cord or spinal nerves by part of cervical vertebrae or cervical disk
- Collapse and bulging of cervical disk due to age
- Damaged cervical disk due to trauma
- Patient complains of neck pain, numbness, or weakness for more than 6-12 weeks
- No response from nonsurgical types of treatment
Ideal candidate for Cervical Disc replacement surgery:
Not all the patients with neck pain are suitable for disc replacement. Surgeon will evaluate overall health and other factors in the patient to find the best possible procedure that will provide relief to the patient. Most commonly, cervical disc replacement surgery is suggested to following patients:
- Pain associated with only 1 or 2 disks in the cervical spine
- Healthy weight individuals
- No additional deformity
- No significant joint disease or compression on the nerves
- No prior major spinal surgery
The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia with one- to two-inch incision (surgical cut) being made on the side or front of patient neck. This is followed by careful moving of the important structures of neck to the side until surgeon is able to see the bones of the vertebrae and the cervical disk. Now the diseased or damaged cervical disk is removed and replaced by artificial disk in the empty space. Now the incision is closed using absorbable sutures (stitches) under the skin. A small dressing is applied over the incision and patient is advised to use a rigid or soft neck collar for few days.
Patient is then kept under observation for three-four days in the hospital. Early ambulation in terms of standing and walking is started on the day of surgery itself but without putting any strain on the disk. Complete recovery may take a few weeks or months of time and meanwhile patient is advised to avoid any jarring activities or motion. Simple exercises and therapies are suggested during the post-operative period to strengthen the spine.
Advantages of Cervical Disk replacement surgery:
- Restores motion
- Allows more neck movements
- Improves flexibility
- Creates less stress on remaining vertebrae
- Minimizes pain in most of the cases
- Reduces the dependency on other persons
- Early healing
- Rapid return to regular activities
- Slow wear & tear of spine