The spinal cord is a linear arrangement of many small bones known as vertebrae. These vertebrae consist of spaces between them known as intervertebral spaces. They are filled with cartilaginous structures that provide a cushioning effect to the vertebrae and support the movement of the spine.
These cartilaginous structures are called Intervertebral discs. Any pathology of the intervertebral discs such as disc herniation (slipping of the disc from between the vertebrae), ruptured disc or degenerative disc disease may cause severe back pain due to nerve impingement, indicating the need for either partial or total disc replacement. In partial disc replacement surgery, only a portion of the cartilaginous disc is replaced by the artificial disc, while the total disc is replaced in the total disc replacement surgery.
Signs and symptoms
Cervical disc degeneration and disc rupture may cause chronic neck pain radiating towards the arm. Thoracic disc degeneration may cause chronic upper/ mid back pain while lumbar disc degeneration may cause chronic lower back pain.
Conditions requiring total cervical disc replacement surgery:
• Discitis (Inflammation of the intervertebral disc)
• Scoliosis (abnotmal spinal curve laterally)
• Disc herniation (slipping of the cartilaginous disc into surrounding tissue)
• Disc degeneration and disc rupture (infection of the intervertebral disc causing its degeneration)
Benefits of total disc replacement
Your recovery time after undergoing total disc time is very less as compared to spinal fusion surgery. The mobility is not compromised, and the prognosis is good. The success rate of the disc replacement surgery is found to be 98%.
Studies revealed that the patients who successfully underwent total disc replacement remain asymptomatic and free from chronic back pain for an average of 8.7 years.
Step 1: Incision at the surgical site and retracting the organs, to enable visibility
Step 2: Removal of the damaged or protruding disc
Step 3: Placement of the artificial disc in place of excised disc.
Step 4: Securing the artificial disc to the adjacent vertebrae
Step 5: Placement of material between the frictional surfaces of the artificial disc, if required
Step 6: Surgical closure of the incision
You may be discharged after 2-4 days, after a thorough evaluation by the physical therapists. You are taught the proper techniques of getting in and out of bed. You should avoid bending or twisting for the first 2-4 weeks, to avoid strain to the surgical site. You may be advised to use braces if your condition requires support in the region of the lower back.
Recovery time: You may recover and get back to normal activities within three weeks after cervical disc replacement.
Risks of total disc replacement surgery
As with any surgery, artificial disc replacement surgery is associated with complications. Allergy to the implant material, infection, prosthetic dislodgement, nerve injury and clot formation due to blood vessel damage are the complications associated with artificial disc replacement surgery.
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