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Disc Replacement Surgery

What is disc replacement surgery?

Cervical disc replacement surgery is an advanced spinal procedure to replace a damaged intervertebral disc. It is a common alternative used to treat your disc that has undergone wear and tear, injury, or disease, unlike other spinal fusion surgeries.

Artificial cervical disc replacement surgery involves using a mobile artificial disc in exchange for your failed cervical disc. The replacement provides a similar function as an intervertebral disc, providing cushioning separating the vertebrae. Typically, this procedure allows chronic neck pain to be significantly diminished and a greater range of motion, enabling you to go about your daily routine with fewer limitations.

Disc replacement surgery differs based on the location of the damaged disc on your spine. If you have a damaged disc, you may undergo one of the following types:

  • Lumbar disc replacement: Replacement of damaged discs in the lower point of your spine.
  • Cervical disc replacement: Replacement of damaged discs in the cervical portion of your spine 
  • Thoracic disc replacement surgery: A rare disc replacement surgery performed if you suffer from diagnoses such as  thoracic myelopathy

At NeuroSpine Plus, our surgeons have been performing this procedure for over two decades. Led by Dr. Scheid and Dr. Hunt, alongside a talented team of providers, you will be met with safe, steady, and skilled hands from your initial examination through the entirety of your treatment.  At NeuroSpine Plus, we prioritize the patient-centered approach. When you are evaluated by one of our specialists your complete medical history, surgical history, and current symptoms will be reviewed. All necessary diagnostic tests will be reviewed, or requested, to ensure a complete analysis of your condition. Based on their findings, a personalized treatment plan will be discussed.


What conditions are treated with a disc replacement?

Artificial disc replacement surgery is a widely conducted spinal surgery used to restore the flexibility of the spine and relieve pain from a damaged disc. If you have one of the following conditions, then you may be eligible for an artificial disc replacement:

Lumbar disc replacement surgery also treats various symptoms from other spinal conditions.

To learn more about this procedure and if it is the most appropriate one for your condition, book an appointment with one of our specialists today at 201-399-3388.

How is a disc replacement performed?

At NeuroSpine Plus, we employ the best cervical disc replacement surgeons at all of our state-of-the-art clinics in New Jersey and New York.

If you have been considered a candidate for artificial disc replacement surgery, your providers will ask you to quit smoking to promote postoperative healing.

Before your surgery, your doctor will provide you with instructions to include but are not limited to:

  • No eating or drinking after midnight the night prior to your procedure
  • Stop taking certain medications such as anti-inflammatories or blood thinners
  • Wash the surgical area with antibacterial soap the night before, and the morning of, your procedure

On the day of surgery, you will be given general anesthesia by a trained anesthesiologist. You will be completely asleep before the procedure begins. Once you are anesthetized, our team of experienced neurosurgeons and physician assistants will perform the following procedure:

  1. Incision is made: A horizontal incision around 1-2 inches will be made on either side of your neck. If several discs need to be removed, the incision may be vertical for easier access removal. Once the incision has been made, your anterior neck muscles, ligaments, trachea, and esophagus will be gently moved to access the compromised disc.
  2. Disc is excised: Using fluoroscopy, x-rays are taken to confirm the compromised disc space. With use of a microscope, our surgeons then remove all compressive material including intervertebral disc material and/or osteophytes, ensuring safe decompression of the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots.
  3. Replacement: An artificial disc of appropriate size is then inserted to replace the damaged disc
  4. Closure: The incision will be closed with multiple layers of dissolvable sutures and covered with a dry, sterile dressing

What to expect following an artificial disc replacement

Your postoperative healing progress will be closely overseen by our team of providers, ensuring a routine recovery. A member of our team will contact you within the first 48 hours of your procedure to monitor your progress. Your initial post operative appointment will be scheduled within two weeks of your surgical date. A member of our team is always available to answer questions or address your concerns during your recovery period. General postoperative recommendations include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Use of postoperative pain medications as prescribed
  • Over-the-counter Tylenol for pain
  • Advance your diet as tolerated based on your comfort with swallowing
  • Do not strain your voice
  • Avoid excessive neck movement
  • Wear a cervical collar as instructed by your provider
  • Do not smoke
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments
  • Do not use NSAIDs until cleared by your surgeon (Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, etc)
  • Incision care to include washing your incision with gentle antibacterial soap 48 hours after your procedure. No scrubbing, submerging, or soaking the incision(s). No lotions, creams, oils, or ointments atop the incision(s).

When to contact your doctor's office

If you have concerns during your postoperative period to include, but not limited to the following: 

  • High fever greater than 100.4F
  • Change in urinary or bowel habits
  • Swelling or discoloration of one or both calves
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Incisional compromise
  • Loss of strength in your arms or legs

These are just a few precautionary measures your doctor may advise you of. At NeuroSpine Plus, we strongly commit to our patient’s care and stay focused on your recovery long after the surgery. We attentively schedule a series of follow-ups to ensure you are recovering properly.

Disc replacement FAQs

At NeuroSpine Plus, the chances of complications from surgeries like this are rare due to our surgeons’ steady, skilled hands. With decades of experience and over 5000 surgeries, Dr. Scheid and Dr. Hunt are well-versed in how to provide patients with lasting pain relief.

All surgical procedures have an inherent level of risk associated with them. With artificial disc replacement surgery performed by our board-certified neurosurgeons, the risks are rare. All risks and benefits associated with undergoing any procedure are discussed at length with our board-certified neurosurgeons prior to proceeding with surgery.

Disc replacement surgery offers a lot of benefits, such as:

  • Increased flexibility and mobility
  • Reduced stress and pressure on the spine
  • Lower risk of complications
  • Fast recovery

On average, it takes around 6 weeks to return to normal activities following a disc replacement. Sometimes, it can take longer to recover, based on the complexity of the surgery. 

If you believe you may be a candidate for an artificial disc replacement surgery, call our office today to book your consultation at 201-399-3388.

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