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Cervical Disc Replacement vs Traditional Cervical Fusion

Cervical spine pain

When you’ve experienced a traumatic event involving your spine or your degenerative disc disease has progressed to the point where something surgical must be done, there are two options that a surgeon will suggest. The first is a time-honored practice where the remaining disc is removed and the two adjacent vertebrae are fused together, the other is a new innovation where the damaged disc is removed, and an artificial disc is used to replace it. Which of these are selected is up to your physician and the specifics of your pathology.

What Benefits Are There To Cervical Disc Replacement?
As the newest procedure of the two, cervical disc replacement takes advantage of the latest information and technologies involved in the spinal surgical field and helps retain your bodies natural form and function rather than modifying it in the manner of fusion. Since no bone-graft is needed for the procedure, the risks associated with that procedure are also avoided, which can include such things as the graft simply failing to heal and require another surgery. Additionally, there has been a history of reduced complications involving the hardware involved in a fusion. Overall, Cervical Disc Replacement has been shown to have a significantly lower instance of follow-up or repair surgeries to follow.

What Risks Are There To Cervical Disc Replacement?
Like any medical procedure, there are complications that can arise with disc replacement, and one of those is difficulty swallowing. While it can happen in both types of surgery, they occur far less frequently with disc replacements and tend to resolve themselves faster as well. Another concern that faces those who get a disc replacement is adjacent segment disease, an instance where those adjacent levels in the spine start to wear out, but again this is far less common with the Disc Replacement than the Cervical Fusion. One risk that is unique to Cervical Disc Replacement is the rare need to replace the disc, resulting in an additional surgery. While this has been known to occur, it happens in only 3 to 4 percent of those who have gotten this procedure performed.

How Does Cervical Disc Replacement Compare to Anterior Cervical Fusion?
Overall cervical fusion has fallen out of favor, with most surgeons preferring to use the disc replacement in any instance where this is possible. However, in those cases where Anterior Cervical Fusion is the appropriate approach, there is the benefit of a greater support structure within the spine. The two bones fused together are able to absorb stress better, though some loss of mobility often results.

If you’re experiencing a health concern that may be best approached using cervical disc replacement or fusion, you’ll want to discuss it with an expert like Dr. Diana Wilson at Neurosurgical and Spine Consultants. She’s been performing procedures like these as a mainstay of her practice for years and has been shown to have consistent and successful results. Call their office today and schedule an appointment to get a consultation on your case and help to decide if one of these procedures is right for your case.

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