An artificial disc replacement surgery involves removing a degenerated and worn-out disc in the lower back, and replacing it with an artificial disc.
An artificial disc is designed to mimic the spine’s natural form and function and allows the preservation of the normal motion of the spine. This is in contrast to a fusion operation, where a disc is removed and a bone graft is placed to fuse the vertebrae together, eliminating motion.
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The Benefits of Artificial Disc Replacement
The benefit of an artificial disc replacement is faster recovery, maintenance of normal spinal motion, and reduction of risk of breakdown of adjacent discs (which is a common occurrence after a fusion operation).
Who is Artificial Disc Replacement Right For?
Artificial disc replacement surgery is ideal for young, healthy, and active individuals with one or two degenerative discs in the lumbar spine, in whom lower back pain has not responded to conservative measures such as physical therapy, medications, and injections.
What Does Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery Look Like?
The surgery involves a small incision in the front of the abdomen, where a vascular surgeon performs the approach to the front of the spine, protecting important blood vessels. This approach bypasses the abdominal organs which are contained in the peritoneal sack; in other words, we do not see or touch the bowels.
The spine surgeon then removes the disc and inserts the artificial disc under x-ray guidance. Most artificial disc replacement surgeries can be performed in an outpatient surgical center, with the patient going home a few hours after surgery.
What Does the Recovery Look Like?
Recovery from an artificial disc replacement is usually in the order of a few weeks. We advise patients to take it easy after surgery and avoid heavy lifting, or unnecessary bending or twisting. We monitor the healing with x-rays in the office, and once the healing process is complete, patients are allowed to return to all normal activities, including sports.
If you have been suffering from chronic back pain, schedule a consultation with us to see if you might be a good candidate for an artificial disc replacement!
Get a consultation with back pain specialist Dr. Ehsan Saadat.