Artificial Disc Replacement

An artificial cervical disc is a device inserted between two neck vertebrae after an intervertebral disc has been surgically removed in the process of decompressing the spinal cord or a nerve root. The intent of the device is to preserve motion at the disc space. It is an alternative to the use of bone grafts, plates and screws in pursuit of a fusion following such a disc removal.

Cervical disc replacement surgery would most typically be done for patients with cervical disc herniations that have not responded to non-surgical treatment options and are significantly affecting the individuals’ quality of life and ability to function.

An artificial disc replacement surgery may be done instead of an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. The theoretical advantages of the artificial cervical disc over a fusion include maintaining normal neck motion and theoretically reducing degeneration of adjacent segments of the cervical spine. These advantages have not yet been proven in the literature.

Artificial cervical discs are only FDA approved for treatment of a single disc. If more than one disc needs treatment, than traditional fusion surgery may be required. Additionally, this treatment is only indicated for soft herniated discs without significant bone spur formation. Spinal arthritis, deformity, and instability are also contra-indications.

Only a few insurance payers currently cover artificial disc replacement. Your neurosurgeon at the Texas Spine & Neurosurgery Center will discuss your condition with you at the time of your consultation and inform you if surgery is appropriate. If surgery is appropriate, he will discuss if cervical disc replacement may be an option for you.