What is a cervical disc replacement?

cervical disc replacement

The cervical disc is an integral body part positioned between the vertebrae at the neck, responsible for absorbing a large amount of pressure near the area. A total of seven bones mark up the cervical spine, and six of these shock absorbers are present between each of them to act as a cushion, allowing fluid movement of the neck. However, these discs are subject to wear and tear that can lead to their collapse with time, causing symptoms such as neck pain, stiffness, and more. 

Thus, one should undergo a cervical disc replacement to regain a pain-free, everyday life. Your doctor might recommend that you get surgery to relieve you of any distress that can affect your lifestyle in the long run. Follow on to better understand cervical disc replacement, potential risks, and surgical procedure.

Why is cervical disc replacement surgery required?

As mentioned, the cervical disc depletes over the years since human beings frequently move their neck bones. It can later disintegrate with age, leading to a bulge and stiffness. Here is a list of the common symptoms one can face when the cushions in the cervical vertebrae wear out. 

  • Neck pain
  • Bulge and stiffness 
  • Headache 
  • Numbness that extends out to the arm 
  • Weakness in the shoulder and arms
cervical disc replacement

What are the risks involved in cervical disk replacement surgery?

It is customary for any surgery to involve some risks, and cervical disk replacement is no exception. It is safer compared to other spine surgeries, with a  few notable risks listed below.

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Anesthetic side effects
  • Nerve injury
  • Swallowing difficulty

It is worth noting, however, that these conditions arise in sporadic cases, and make sure to contact your surgeon if you are facing any of the specified symptoms post-surgery.

What happens during cervical disc replacement surgery?

Here is a complete breakdown of the process involved in cervical disk replacement surgery:

  • Firstly, you will be put through an IV to receive the necessary fluids and medications.
  • General anesthesia will be administered through the IV to sedate you before the surgery.
  • The surgeon will likely insert a tube through the throat to help you breathe. 
  • Your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level will be thoroughly monitored throughout the process. 
  • A portion of your neck will be cleaned with a solution to kill germs before incision. 
  • A small incision will be made in a suitable spot on your neck.
  • The surgeon will now proceed to access the cervical vertebrae and the disc carefully. 
  • The damaged disc will be removed for replacement.
  • An artificial disc will be installed at the same location. 
  • Your surgical cut will be carefully closed using stitches to minimize any form of scarring.
  • Additional dressing will be administered to the cut.
  • A collar will be added to your neck to restrict unnecessary motion, which will help you recover faster.

What happens after cervical disk replacement surgery?

Once you are free from your hospital, follow the steps below for a steady recovery. 

  • Support your neck with a soft collar.
  • By now, you should be able to consume a regular diet. Make sure to eat well to recover quickly. 
  • Gradually indulge yourself in everyday activities. Make sure to avoid any restrictive movements.
  • Consider physical therapy.

Follow these steps to get back on your feet within a few weeks. 

For more queries on cervical disc replacement surgery, consult Dr.Akhil TawariExpert Adult and Pediatric Spine Surgeon. He is one of the best orthopedic surgeons specializing in spine surgery with over 15 years of experience.