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Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery

When a spinal disc is too badly damaged to save, it's now possible to replace it with an artificial disc. Michael Song, MD, and the highly skilled surgeons at Advanced Neurosurgery in Reno and Carson City, Nevada, have considerable expertise in performing artificial disc replacement surgery, a procedure that helps you retain optimal spinal function and flexibility. To find out whether you could benefit from artificial disc replacement surgery, call Advanced Neurosurgery today or book an appointment online.

What is artificial disc replacement surgery?

Artificial disc replacement surgery is a possible solution to conditions affecting the intervertebral discs when you've exhausted less invasive treatment options.

The discs in your spine are spongy cushions that fit between the vertebrae. They consist of an interior that’s soft like jelly and a tougher outer shell. If the disc deteriorates with age or suffers an injury, it can cause severe and persistent back or neck pain and potentially a loss of function.

Artificial disc replacement surgery is a procedure where your surgeon at Advanced Neurosurgery removes the damaged or diseased disc and replaces it with an artificial one. The new disc replicates the function of a natural disc, so you retain spinal flexibility and strength.

Artificial disc replacement offers advantages over spinal fusion, which is the other option. However, not all patients are good candidates for disc replacement, in which case fusion offers an excellent alternative.

What conditions might require artificial disc replacement surgery?

The condition that typically leads to artificial disc replacement surgery is disc herniation. A herniated disc is one where the jelly-like center of the disc protrudes through the outer shell. This can result from a severe back trauma, or more commonly, age-related wear-and-tear.

Over the years, your soft, plump, shock-absorbent discs gradually get drier, stiffer, and flatter, a condition known as degenerative disc disease.

As a disc deteriorates, the outer shell weakens, and the spongy center can push against it. This might cause a bulge, or the tissues may give way, so the disc herniates.

The protruding core might then compress nerves in your spinal canal, causing pain, unpleasant sensations like tingling and prickling that can spread into the limbs, and loss of function.

Many people benefit from nonsurgical treatments like physical therapy and medication. Others improve following an injection of steroid medication into the epidural space in the spine. 

For a few patients, however, none of the available treatments has an effect, and artificial disc replacement might be the best option.

What does artificial disc replacement surgery involve?

You need a general anesthetic for your artificial disc replacement surgery. Your Advanced Neurosurgery surgeon makes an incision in your skin to extract the damaged disc. They make sure the space for the disc is smooth and free of debris, then insert the artificial disc.

Artificial disc replacement is suitable for neck vertebrae (cervical artificial disc replacement) or lower back vertebrae (lumbar artificial disc replacement). It's not performed in your upper back (the thoracic spine).

To find out whether you could benefit from artificial disc replacement surgery, call Advanced Neurosurgery today or book an appointment online.