Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement

Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) remains a reliable technique used by Dr. Kern Singh and Dr. Frank Phillips for treating neck disorders in patients who don't respond to non-surgical treatments. More recently, however, artificial cervical disk replacement (total arthroplasty) has become a viable surgical option. In artificial cervical disc replacement, the damaged cervical disc is removed and replaced with an artificial device.

In artificial disc replacement surgery, the patient is put under general anesthesia, face up. The surgeon makes a 1-inch horizontal incision and the procedure at first is similar to ACDF. The techniques differ in that instead of filling the gap left behind after the disc removal with bone or plastic as in the ACDF procedure, the surgeon installs a mechanical disc instead. The disc is comprised of two metal plates, often but not always separated by medical-grade plastic.

The patient is discharged that same day or within 24 hours of the surgery. Advantages of artificial disc replacement over ACDF include:

  • No bone grafting is required
  • There is no need to install a plate for stability
  • Motion of the spine is maintained, which may protect adjacent levels from wearing out

Not all patients with herniated discs or bone spurs are candidates for disc replacement. An experienced spine doctor like Dr. Singh or Dr. Phillips at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush Minimally Invasive Spine Institute conduct a thorough diagnostics exam before recommending treatment that will work best.