Artificial disc replacement is growing in popularity as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery to alleviate chronic back pain. The surgery involves replacing the disc that’s causing the pain with an artificial disc without compromising the overall structure of the spine and related tissues. If you’re considering artificial disc replacement, here’s what you need to know.
Potential Candidates for Artificial Disc Replacement
Since artificial disc replacement is still a relatively new procedure, it’s only intended for patients with single-level, painful degenerative disc disease that hasn’t improved following at least six months of rehabilitation treatments not involving surgery. Additionally, candidates must also:
- Have a defective disc between L4-L5 or L5-S1 (levels of the lumbar spine)
- Be between the ages of 18 and 60
- Have back pain as their main complaint (rather than leg pain)
Those who need multi-level artificial disc replacement, new groundbreaking research has rendered an FDA approved implant for such indications, the Mobi-C artificial disc. If considering the Mobi-C artificial disc, it’s important to work with a certified and highly trained surgeon who is familiar with the product and who specializes in artificial disc replacement.
Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery
During the surgery, a small incision is typically made in the abdomen below the belly button. The collapsed or degenerated disc is then removed and an artificial disc is inserted with special instruments. Spinal ligaments and the remaining part of the natural disc keep the artificial disc in place.
Recovery and Rehabilitation
The rehabilitation process usually starts about four days after surgery. Patients often experience little or no postoperative discomfort while being able to return to most of their normal activities within a short period of time following surgery.
Possible Risks and Complications
Lumbar or cervical artificial disc replacement is major surgery, and patients should understand the possible complications before undergoing the procedure. Since the surgery involves approaching the spine from the abdomen, there is a risk of bleeding or slow intestinal movements. Additional risks may include:
- Spinal cord or nerve damage
- Allergic reactions (to the implant material)
- Bladder problems
If you’ve taken the time to be sure that non-surgical options won’t help and are considering artificial disc replacement, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration and weigh your options with our world-class spine specialists and surgeons. The center’s medical director, Dr. Hyun Bae specializes in artificial disc replacement and was part of the revolutionary research that lead to the Mobi-C implant’s FDA approval for one and two level indications. To schedule an in-person consultation, call us today at (310) 828-7757.