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Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery

Artificial disc replacement (ADR) is a motion preservation spine surgery that removes a painful damaged spinal disc and replaces it with an artificial disc. Artificial disc surgery can be performed in the neck (cervical spine) or lower back (lumbar spine).

Artificial discs are designed to replace degenerative discs and replicate our spine’s natural motion. The ADR device first received FDA approval in the United States in 2004. Since then, numerous approved disc replacement devices have been developed, tested, and implanted in spine patients.

The goal of this procedure is to relieve the pain caused by pinched nerves due to a damaged disc in the cervical spine. The diseased or damaged disc will be replaced with a specialized implant.

Understanding the Human Spine

The human spine is a complex collection of bones (vertebral bodies), discs, muscles, and spinal nerves that allow us to move about physically. The spine provides strength, support, and flexibility to hold the weight of our bodies in an upright position. Because the spine allows for twisting, turning, and bending, we can walk, run, lift objects, participate in exercise and sports.  

A vertebral disc between each pair of vertebral bodies supports movement and acts as shock absorbers when standing and moving. These discs are made of a durable outer shell and an inner gel-like substance. 

However, with time and aging, almost everyone over the age of 40 develops some form of degenerative disc disease. This spine condition is a result of wearing and tearing down of the disc that can cause debilitating pain, decreased motion, and loss of quality of life.

The Goal of Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery

The goal of artificial disc replacement aims to relieve spinal pain and restore standard disc height due to degenerative disc disease. Unlike a spinal fusion, which aims to prevent motion in the spine to reduce pain, the artificial disc preserves motion. 

Artificial disc replacement has become one of the best surgical innovations for patients suffering from neck and back pain in the past 15 years. In the past orthopedic spine surgeons fused the spinal segments because of low back or neck pain. They now have motion-preserving surgery in artificial disc replacement.

Artificial disc replacement evolved from the success of artificial hips and knee replacements in orthopedic surgery. Patients have had excellent outcomes with disc replacement because they have kept them moving and active as they age.

What Conditions Does Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery Treat?

The most common spinal conditions treated with an artificial disc replacement surgery are herniated disc and degenerative disc disease.  Other conditions treated with an ADR are spinal cord compression or myelopathy, spinal stenosis, and radiculopathy.

Artificial disc replacement is not recommended for patients with the following conditions:

Advanced spinal degeneration
This includes facet joint degeneration, osteoarthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis.
Weakened Bones
Abnormal vertebral bodies weakened by osteoporosis or a bone infection. Because of the unstable bones, the artificial disc is less likely to stay in place after surgery.
Previous spine surgery
Any instability of a prior neck or back surgery may reduce the success of the artificial disc replacement surgery.
Allergy to materials in the ADR

Patients who are allergic to any components of metals or plastic used in the artificial disc should avoid this surgery.

Who is a Candidate for an Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery?

Best candidates for artificial disc replacement surgery suffer from severe neck or back pain that significantly impedes their quality of life. The best outcomes and benefits for artificial disc surgery have been shown with patients aged 18 to 60. 

Patient candidates for artificial disc replacement must have experienced chronic neck or back pain not relieved by nonsurgical treatment for at least six months. They must have tried conservative treatment options such as physical therapy, over-the-counter or prescription analgesics, and steroid injections before being considered candidates for artificial disc replacement surgery.

Artificial Disc Replacement in Phoenix, AZ

Desert Institute for Spine Care’s expert spine surgeons has been involved with artificial disc replacement or total disc arthroplasty research and clinical studies for over ten years. Our world-renowned orthopedic spine specialists in Phoenix, AZ work with patients to treat complex spine conditions, including those who have failed previous surgical treatment.

Our surgeons routinely offer patients a second opinion to evaluate and provide the least invasive yet most effective treatment options. DISC offers a complete range of nonsurgical, ultra-minimally invasive, motion-preserving, and minimally invasive solutions for patients suffering from painful neck and back conditions.

Are You A Candidate For Artificial Disc Replacement?

When your neck or back pain prohibits you from working and living an active physical lifestyle, you should consult with an expert spine surgeon.

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1635 E. Myrtle • Suite 400 • Phoenix, AZ 85020
Ph: 602-944-2900 • Fax: 602-944-0064

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