If you suffer from neck or back pain, you may have heard of a procedure called artificial disc replacement (ADR). ADR is a type of surgery that replaces a damaged or diseased intervertebral disc in the spine with an artificial disc. This procedure has become an increasingly popular alternative to spinal fusion, which involves fusing two or more vertebrae together.
What is an Artificial Disc?
An artificial disc is a device made of metal and plastic that is designed to mimic the function of a natural intervertebral disc. The disc consists of two metal endplates that attach to the vertebrae and a plastic core that allows for movement between the endplates. The plastic core is made of a material that is similar in texture to the natural disc, allowing for flexibility and shock absorption.
Who is a Candidate for Artificial Disc Replacement?
Not everyone with neck or back pain is a candidate for ADR. Patients who have tried non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy, medication, and injections without relief may be considered for ADR. In addition, patients who have degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, or spinal stenosis may be candidates for the procedure.
However, ADR may not be appropriate for patients with certain medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, infection, cancer, advanced arthritis, spinal instability or deformity of the spine such as scoliosis or kyphosis. A trained spine surgeon like Dr. Remi Ajiboye will evaluate your individual case and determine if ADR is a viable option for you.
How is Artificial Disc Replacement Performed?
ADR is typically performed under general anesthesia, and patients are typically discharged from the hospital within a few hours to a day after the procedure. During the surgery, a small incision is made in the front of the neck or abdomen (for the back), and the damaged disc is removed. The artificial disc is then inserted in its place and secured to the surrounding vertebrae.
After the procedure, patients will need to undergo physical therapy to help regain strength and mobility in the affected area. Full recovery may take several weeks to months.
What are the Benefits of Artificial Disc Replacement?
Compared to spinal fusion, ADR offers several advantages:
- Preserves spinal mobility: ADR allows for more natural movement of the spine, whereas spinal fusion eliminates movement between fused vertebrae.
- Reduced risk of adjacent segment disease: Spinal fusion can put increased stress on adjacent vertebrae, leading to wear and tear and the need for additional surgery. ADR reduces this risk by preserving spinal mobility.
- Quicker recovery: Patients who undergo ADR typically experience a quicker recovery time than those who undergo spinal fusion.
However, ADR may not be appropriate for every patient. An expert spine surgeon like Dr. Remi Ajiboye can help you weigh the benefits and risks of the procedure and determine if it is right for you.
If you suffer from neck or back pain and are considering surgery, it's important to discuss all of your options with your doctor. Artificial disc replacement is a promising alternative to spinal fusion that offers several advantages, but it may not be appropriate for every patient. With the help of your doctor, you can make an informed decision about the best course of treatment for your individual case.