Artificial Disc

Neurosurgical Specialists of West County

Neurosurgeons located in Saint Louis, MO

Aging and trauma can break down the discs in your neck, some result in herniation to cause nerve root compression or spinal cord impingement. When this happens, artificial discs can be a safe and effective solution. After adequately decompressing the nerve or spinal cord there are options to fuse the adjacent vertebrae (ACDF) or to insert a disc replacement device to mimic the movement of the natural disc. The surgeons at Neurosurgical Specialists of West County in St. Louis perform disc replacement surgery when physical therapy and other treatments have failed to help restore your good health. Find out more by calling the office.

Artificial Disc Q & A

What is an artificial disc?

Discs are soft cushioning structures in your neck and spine found between the individual bones, or vertebrae. A disc is made of cartilage-like tissue that may break down, bulge, or rupture following an injury, with age, or under other circumstances.

An artificial disc replaces your broken-down natural disc. These discs are made to mimic the work of your own disc, allowing you to move naturally and carry the weight of your body. 

Artificial discs are typically made of plastic-like or metal materials, or a combination of both. These man-made discs have been used in disc replacement surgery for decades to help restore the full functioning of your spine.

How do I know if I need disc replacement?

When discs are damaged, part of the disc may move out of its normal position. The displacement can cause pressure on your central spinal cord or on your individual nerve roots connected to the vertebrae. 

Over time, your body reacts to the disrupted disc by making bone spurs that put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. This can cause neck pain, and may also provoke neurologic symptoms, including:

  • Numbness radiating from your neck into your arms
  • Weakness in arms

In such cases, your surgeon at Neurosurgical Specialists of West County may recommend replacing the damaged disc with an artificial disc. When the damaged disc is in your neck, the surgery is called cervical disc replacement.

What is cervical disc replacement?

Cervical disc replacement, or cervical arthroplasty, is surgery to remove a damaged or degenerated disc and replace it with an artificial disc. Your surgeon typically recommends the procedure if conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, medications, or spinal injections, haven’t made a noticeable improvement after 6-12 weeks.

What happens during artificial disc replacement?

The procedure is performed after you’re given anesthesia. Your surgeon makes an incision in the front of your neck, then removes the damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial one.

You typically go home the same day as your surgery or the following day. Your surgeon may recommend you wear a cervical collar for up to a week as you heal, but this varies from patient to patient. 

If you’re suffering from neck pain, find out if you’re a candidate for disc replacement by calling Neurosurgical Specialists of West County today.