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What is Disc Replacement Surgery?
Disc replacement surgery is a surgical procedure in which a degenerative disc that causes chronic back pain is replaced by a metal or plastic intervertebral disc. This surgery is done if non-surgical treatments used for at least six months have failed. The disc replacement restores movements in the specific part of the vertebral column, which enables a painless motion of the higher segment of the vertebral column.
The Artificial Disc
An artificial disc is used to replace the diseased disc. It is made up of a sliding core that is flanked by two metal endplates. These endplates are derived from medical grade cobalt chromium alloy. The sliding core is derived from a medical grade plastic.
How is the Disc Replacement Surgery Performed?
How to Prepare for the Surgery?
- An incision is made in the patient’s abdomen.
- The abdominal organs are carefully put on one side of the abdomen so that the front portion of the spine is visible.
- A large section from the center of the degenerated disc is removed.
- Then, the surgeon spreads the spine bones to create space.
- A surgical microscope is used to remove any material of the diseased disc.
- After this, the disc space is brought back to its normal space and the artificial disc is inserted into the disc space by using a fluoroscope.
- The fluoroscope enables the surgeon to view an x-ray image of the replacement while the procedure is going on.
- Since the surgeon views the implant as and when it is inserted by using a fluoroscope, the surgical procedure is more accurate and much safer.
- In due course, the bones grow around the metal disc and become stable and strong.
Duration of procedure/surgery:
- The patient needs to undergo a physical checkup.
- An anesthesiologist will evaluate the patient.
- Certain medication that the patient is taking may be stopped 10 days prior to the surgery.
- The patient should inform the doctor about any ailments or medical conditions.
- Smoking should be stopped at least a couple of weeks before the surgery to ensure quick healing and a successful result.
- The patient may need to donate blood incase the patient requires a blood transfusion during or after the surgery.
1 to 2 hours
3 to 4 days
- The patient will be able to get up and walk on the same day of the surgery.
- Pain medication will be provided and physical therapy will start when the patient is still in the hospital.
- The patient may be able to return to work in 2 to 4 weeks. However, if the patient’s job involves rigorous activity and lifting heavy items, the recovery will take longer.
- The patient may fully recover in 6 weeks and can resume recreational activities in three months after the surgery.
- Nerve damage
- Blood vessel injury
- Injury to the organs
- Breakage or dislodgement of the artificial disc
- Sexual dysfunction
- The patient should visit the surgeon on scheduled follow-up appointments.
- X-rays will be taken from time to time to determine the healing progress.
- The patient should not lift heavy objects.
- The patient should walk on a daily basis for at least 30 minutes.
- Physical therapy sessions may continue on an outpatient basis.
- After the patient is better and feels comfortable exercising, the physical therapy sessions will stop, and the exercises can be continued at home.
Learn more about Disc Replacement