When a discectomy is performed and a spinal disc is removed due to rupture, degeneration or painful compression of a nerve, one option is to actually replace the natural disc with an artificial disc. This is an alternative to another common option called fusion, in which the two vertebrae around the removed disc are fused together to close the resulting gap.

The benefits of using an artificial replacement disc in place of a fusion procedure include maintenance of normal spine motion, elimination of the need for a bone graft, quick return to normal activity (due to not having to wait for fused vertebrae to heal together) and a reduced chance that discs near the joined vertebrae will deteriorate more quickly due to the abnormal motion of the fused region. In most cases, patients who have had an artificial disc implanted after a discectomy are allowed to go home within 24 to 48 hours, with few limitations on post-operative activity.

Artificial disc replacement may occur when a disc is removed due to:

  • A herniated (or “ruptured”) disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bone spurs related to the previous two conditions

Artificial discs are designed to accurately mimic the attributes of natural spinal discs, acting as shock absorbers in the spine. Although some patients feel discomfort about the idea of having man-made parts implanted during surgery, all artificial disc designs are subject to stringent medical requirements, and must undergo proper clinical testing before they can be considered and approved by the FDA. Patients will be comforted to know that complications are rare and do not tend to be much different from those risks associated with the common fusion procedure.

If you are considering undergoing a discectomy to remove a damaged or problematic spinal disc and would like to explore the possibility of having it replaced with an artificial disc, contact our office at your earliest convenience to set up an appointment to speak with Dr. Neece one-on one.