Removing a damaged or herniated disc requires reinforcement of the space left behind, typically achieved with fusion of the vertebrae. However, board-certified neurosurgeon Mirza Baig, MD, of NeuroCare Partners in The Woodlands, Texas, provides an alternative for suitable patients in the form of disc replacement. If you have treatment-resistant back or neck problems because of disc damage, find out whether you could benefit from disc replacement by calling NeuroCare Partners or using the online booking tool today.
Disc replacement is a procedure that involves removing one of the discs between your vertebrae and replacing it with an artificial disc. Artificial disc replacement provides an alternative to traditional fusion surgery after disc removal.
Fusing the vertebrae on either side of the disc effectively stabilizes the spine but does limit your range of motion. An artificial disc restores movement in your spine to a level not possible with fusion surgery.
The artificial disc consists of two cobalt-chromium-molybdenum plates that have a titanium coating. The plates attach to the vertebrae by a keel, with a polyethylene (plastic) core between them to allow for spinal mobility.
You might benefit from disc replacement surgery if you have a problem with the intervertebral discs that aren’t treatable using nonsurgical methods. The most common root cause is disc degeneration, which can lead to herniated discs and chronic lower back pain.
The intervertebral discs are soft tissues that sit between two vertebrae — the bones that make up your spinal column. The disc's nucleus is a soft, jelly-like substance that works as a shock absorber, surrounded by layers of fibrous tissue.
In a healthy disc, the nucleus has a high water content, but it can deteriorate over time, losing the ability to hold water and becoming stiff. This results in a loss of shock absorbency that places a strain on the fibrous outer layer. As a result, disc degeneration causes low back pain.
Disc replacement surgery takes place while you’re under general anesthesia. Your NeuroCare Partners surgeon makes a 3- to 4-inch incision in your abdomen and eases the abdominal muscles to one side.
This anterior (frontal) approach allows access to your spine without the need to make large incisions in your muscles.
The intestines, which lie inside a sac called the peritoneum, and large blood vessels also move to one side, giving access to the spine. Your surgeon can then remove the intervertebral disc and fit the artificial disc into the space.
For optimal recovery, you need to undergo a program of rehabilitation with the skilled physical therapy team at NeuroCare Partners.
Find out more about disc replacement and whether it's the right choice for you by calling NeuroCare Partners today or booking an appointment online.