What is an Artificial Disc Replacement in the Neck?

As a neck surgeon, Dr. Braxton performs artificial disc replacement in the neck for patients suffering from degenerative disc disease. An artificial disc replacement can be an option when degenerative disc disease progresses beyond the level of cervical fusion. Replacing the damaged disc with an artificial disc in the neck has the intention of promoting normal neck movement and minimizing degeneration in adjacent segments of the spine. Another key advantage of the artificial disc replacement is a quicker recovery to normal neck motion.

What is an Artificial Disc Made Of?

Artificial cervical discs are commonly made of metal and plastic-like materials called biopolymers. These materials have a successful history of medical use. The design has two outer plates designed to attach to the vertebrae above and below the replacement level. Between the plates is a soft compressible center, or nucleus, designed to replicate the motion and disc space stability of a healthy natural disc.

How is an Artificial Disc Replacement Done in the Cervical Spine?

As a neck surgeon, Dr. Braxton offers non-surgical and advanced surgical treatments to patients experiencing degenerative cervical spine conditions. Under his guidance, Dr. Braxton may recommend an advanced surgical procedure which may include an artificial cervical disc replacement surgery. Similar to the anterior cervical fusion procedure, the artificial cervical disc replacement is a surgery that requires anesthesia.

The main difference of artificial cervical disc replacement surgery compared to cervical fusion is that the degenerated disc is not repaired and fused, but rather removed and an artificial disc is inserted. The artificial disc, designed to function as a normal healthy disc, is inserted such that the artificial components form a fusion with the adjacent spinal joints. Patients return to preoperative neck functions quicker compared to patients who undergo a fusion.

How Successful is Artificial Disc Replacement in the Neck?

Patients who undergo a cervical disc replacement are shown to have a successful result of more than 90%. Patients report a decrease in neck and arm pain and often return to preoperative injury function.

Are you experiencing spinal pain? Contact Dr. Braxton today.

What to Expect After Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery in the Neck?

Dr. Braxton’s advanced cervical disc replacement is major surgery. Following surgery patients can expect:

  • One night in the surgery facility
  • A period requiring pain management and extra sleep
  • Fatigue and modification of activities
  • A methodical return to daily routines
  • The need to have some additional help
  • The importance of good nutrition including adequate protein

The main concern during the early recovery of cervical artificial disc replacement surgery is overextending the neck. A cervical collar can be helpful to prevent overextension and provide additional support. Dr. Braxton will provide patients with detailed postoperative instructions.

The first week is best spent away from work and should include short walks to help promote circulation and oxygen delivery to the surgical site. From weeks two to four a patient’s energy will increase, however, only light duty activities are allowed; patients should not lift heavy objects. Following week four patients begin to feel the benefit of the newfound mobility as well as overall health improvement. Patients who do lifting for work would require a further period of healing, possibly up to 8 weeks, before resuming full activities. Around week eight Dr. Braxton will have another follow-up evaluation. While rare, he will want to see you back sooner if any of the following complications may arise:

  • Surgical wound infection, redness, heat, swelling or oozing
  • Increased numbness, tingling or pain
  • Temperature
  • Allergic reaction
  • Issues with swallowing
  • Movement of implants