Though there are replacement treatments for many other parts of the body, disc replacement is a fairly new treatment that has recently been FDA approved in the United States. Disc replacement surgery is generally a last resort to treat a few types of back pain. It is foreseen that this method of treatment may become more common in the near future. With this procedure injured disc material is removed and an artificial disc is placed in the spine. The replacement disc has a lot of pressure in that it must not only be reliable and long lasting, it must also be safe to implant and have the ability to accurately supply the range of motion required by the disc.
It may be hard to believe but disc replacement surgery is a lot less invasive than traditional spinal surgery. In most cases, an incision is made in the abdomen with the surgery being performed through the front of the body. This recovery time after using this method of replacement surgery is minimal. The great thing about disc replacement surgery is that allows vertebral level movement and it maintains the spine’s flexibility. This seems to be the more evolved technique as it does not cause the long term degenerative effects associated with spinal fusion.
Implementing artificial disc as part of disc replacement surgery offers a viable alternative to fusion that can, hopefully, rise above fusion’s shortcomings. With replacing a disc, unlike with spinal fusion, it is possible to reduce damage to nearby joints and discs. Artificial disc allows almost normal distribution of stress along the spine, motion preservation and restoration of pre-degenerative disc height.
The downfall of disc replacement surgery being a new venture is that long term effects of the surgery are not noted. There have been mentions of core slippage in 3 piece discs and spillage of entire disc (1 and 2 piece form) in short term studies. Doctors and researchers believe that at some point there may be concern that the artificial disc will wear down which may bring about the necessity for a repeat procedure. As with most surgical operations there are risks. Risks with disc replacement surgery include:
- Nerve damage: Since the spinal nerves are very sensitive one or more can be easily damaged during surgery.
- Paralysis: This is a rare instance but can be experienced if surgical procedures are performed near the spinal cord.
- Spinal Fluid Leaks: A dural tear (when the membrane surrounding the spinal cord ruptures) is possible with any back surgery. Spinal fluid leaks are generally caught during surgical procedure. If a spinal fluid leak continues on it can result in fluid infection, spinal meningitis or headaches.
- Infection: Infections can occur on the surgical wound or in the skin. Procedures that use bone graft from cadavers or other types of hardware have greater risk of infection. Patients must be careful in immediately treating infection as it could cause greater illness or death.
Keep in mind that disc replacement surgery is a last resort. All alternatives should be exhausted before resorting to an intrusive procedure. If you would like more information please feel free to visit losethebackpain.com.
Written By: Updated: June 28,2011