Discectomy with Placement of Artificial Disc
BRYAN, MobiC, Prestige ST, Prestige LP, SecurC
One of the major causes of disorders of the cervical spine is the degeneration or herniation of discs, the gel-like cushions between the vertebrae that act as shock absorbers. When discs protrude beyond their natural borders, deteriorate, or rupture, pressure is put on a spinal nerve, pain and dysfunction can result. This may occur because of tumor, traumatic injury, congenital deformity of the spine, or through the normal wear and tear of aging. While some types of disc problems, like those resulting from tumors, cannot be helped by discectomy and disc replacement, most problems respond well to such surgical intervention.
When damage to the cervical discs is severe enough to interfere with everyday life, Dr. Stachniak of Brain and Spine Center of Texas is ready to provide her patients with relief through a variety of surgical options. The most recent innovative operation she offers is a cervical discectomy with the placement of an artificial disc (an arthroplasty). Fortunately, Dr. Stachniak is an expert in this combined surgery, that has several advantages over the spinal fusion which was previously the most common repair. These advantages include:
- More rapid healing
- Early postoperative neck motion
- Increased flexibility and movement
- Reduced possibility of adjacent segment disease
- Elimination of the need for a bone graft
- Quicker return to normal activity
The discectomy, while considered safe and effective, must be performed with extreme care. In the hands of a highly skilled surgeon like Dr. Stachniak, patients can expect optimal results and a speedy, complete recovery.
Candidates for This Surgery
Typically, patients undergo surgery for cervical disc problems only after more conservative treatments, such as corticosteroid injections and physical therapy, have failed. Patients who continue to suffer from pain, especially radicular (radiating) pain, muscle spasms, numbness after trying other remedies may be good candidates for this operation.
Types of Artificial Cervical Discs
There are a variety of artificial discs that may be used successfully to replace a damaged one. Dr. Stachniak has the distinction of being one of the few neurosurgeons adept in performing operations using any one of five different cervical discs. As a matter of fact, she was a primary research investigator of two of them: the Prestige ST and the Prestige LP. She is, therefore, knowledgeable about the details of the various devices and in a unique position to make a fully informed decision about which disc is appropriate in your individual case.
There are five types of artificial cervical discs, distinguished by the materials used in their manufacture, their constructural design, their coating, and their mobility:
Because of her exceptional range of knowledge about artificial cervical discs, Dr. Stachniak is able to decide which disc to use based on your individual spinal condition and anatomy.
The Cervical Discectomy and Arthroplasty Procedure
The surgery, which is performed under general anesthesia, is usually performed from the anterior (front) of the neck. First, the incision is made and the soft tissues of the neck are separated. Once the damaged disc is located, the vertebrae above and below it are spread apart with a special retractor. The surgeon removes the damaged disc using small surgical tools, often with assistance of a fluoroscope. Any disc material pressing on the spinal nerves is also removed. In the space where the disc has been removed, the cervical disc replacement is inserted and attached and the layers of tissue are stitched closed.
Immediately after surgery, patients may experience some pain and numbness and may have difficulty swallowing, but these symptoms are usually short-lived. Normally, patients can return home from the hospital in a day or two. They can return to light activity in 3 to 4 weeks and should be completely healed in 3 months. Physical therapy is typically necessary to help the patient regain neck strength and flexibility
Risks of a Cervical Discectomy and Arthroplasty Procedure
This surgery is FDA approved and considered quite safe, but, like all surgical procedures, carries some risks. In addition to the risks of any surgery that include excessive bleeding, blood clot, and postsurgical infection, this particular procedure has a few rare complications, including a failure of the implant or a spontaneous fusion of the adjacent vertebrae.