Cervical arthroplasty is a procedure that replaces a cervical disc with an artificial disc. Cervical discs serve as cushions between vertebrae in the neck. This surgery is an anterior procedure, meaning the surgeon approaches the spine from the front of the neck. It differs from a fusion in that the disc material is replaced with an artificial disc rather than a bone graft.
Why Would I Need a Cervical Arthroplasty?
A cervical arthroplasty is typically performed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord in the neck, a process known as decompression. This pressure can be caused by:
Cervical disc disease
Cervical herniated disc
Patients with pressure on the cervical spinal cord often exhibit symptoms such as:
Pain in neck or upper extremities
Numbness or tingling in the neck or upper extremities
Muscle weakness in the upper extremities
Surgery is usually only considered after non-surgical options have failed. Cervical arthroplasty is one of multiple surgical options for patients experiencing these conditions. Consult with your spinal surgeon to determine the best option for you.
What is the Procedure Like?
A cervical arthroplasty typically consists of the following steps:
Patient lies on back
An incision is made in the front of the neck
Tissue and muscles are moved aside, exposing the vertebrae
The damaged or diseased disc material is removed
An artificial disc is installed
The tissue is returned to its place and the incision is closed
Every patient’s experience is different depending on a number of factors. Typically, patients are up and walking the day after the surgery. Patients may be able to do light work after 1-2 weeks, and may return to full work after 3-6 weeks. Discuss your recovery plan with your spinal surgeon. Many patients’ symptoms are immediately relieved after surgery, while other symptoms improve gradually.
Risks and Complications
Spinal surgeries have a small risk of infection, bleeding, blood clots, nerve damage and risks associated with anesthesia. Risks depend on a variety of factors and are different for each patient. Consult your spinal surgeon about your specific situation.
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