Disc replacement surgery (or arthroplasty) involves putting prosthesis in place of a herniated intervertebral disc, in such a way that the mobility of the spine is retained. It refers to the replacement of a degenerating intervertebral disc with an artificial disc in adults with degenerative disc disease (DDD) in either the lumbar (back) or cervical (neck) region of the spine.
The goal of disc replacement is to reduce pain and neurological symptoms connected to nerve root or cord compression. The disc prosthesis is designed to re-establish the original disc height and follow the natural movement & biomechanics of the spine. Disc replacement is considered an option only when non-surgical measures have failed to resolve or reduce symptoms.
These prostheses replace the degenerated disc and have been proposed as a means of improving flexibility, maintaining spinal curvature, and providing an equalized weight-bearing surface, while reducing or possibly eliminating pain.
Artificial discs may consist of two cobalt-chromium endplates that are attached to the vertebrae and a polyethylene disk that is inserted between the metal endplates. The endplates may be metal on metal, metal on plastic, ceramic on ceramic or titanium on polyurethane. Discs are implanted through an anterior approach and are attached to vertebrae with screws, teeth, ridges, or pins.
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