Cervical disc replacement involves the replacement of the intervertebral disc with a mobile prosthesis that fully restores the original mobility.
What is the cervical disc?
The cervical disc is the elastic pad that separates the vertebrae from each other, allowing them a small amount of movement in six axes. The sum of all these movements between the 7 cervical vertebrae translates into the flexibility of the neck.
This technique is reserved for cases of disc failure (hernias or discopathies), although it is not convenient to practice them in all patients since there are a number of criteria that exclude this possibility such as the existence of osteoarthritis or deformity. In general, this technique is reserved for young patients with little deterioration of the bone structures of the neck.
Related article: Cervical disc hernia
This procedure replaces a degenerative or damaged spinal disc, with an implant designed to preserve movement in your neck. This procedure can relieve pain caused by compressed nerves in the cervical spine.
In preparation for the procedure, you will lie on your back. You are given anaesthesia. The surgeon makes a small incision in the front of your neck. The structures that are inside your neck are carefully separated to create a path to your spine. The surgeon carefully removes the damaged disc. This leaves a space between the vertebrae.
The implant has three parts: upper and lower metal plates and a plastic core that fits between them. The plates have teeth designed to hold them in place. These teeth are pressed against the vertebrae above and below. Over time, the bone will grow and join these plates.
Unlike a rigid neck fusion, which locks the neck in a fixed position, this implant is designed to allow you to move your neck more naturally. The components glide smoothly against each other. With the implant, you can turn your head and bend your neck forward, backward and side to side, just as you would with a healthy disc.
End of the procedure and postoperative care
Once the procedure is completed, the incision is closed. You may have to wear neck support while it heals. You can benefit from physical therapy. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions to help your recovery.