Cervical disc replacement is a surgical procedure which is done to remove a damaged cervical disc and replace it with an artificial disc device serving the same function. Cervical discs act as pillows or shock absorbers between the bones (vertebra) of the neck (cervical spine), allowing the neck to move freely. Your cervical spine is also responsible for forming a protective passage so that the upper part of your spinal cord passes through without a problem. This part of your spinal cord consists of several spinal nerves that provide the upper body with sensation and movement.
If the spacing present between your vertebrae narrows, a portion of your vertebrae or cervical disk could start exerting pressure on the spinal nerves, which could result in pain, swelling, numbness, or weakness of the disk. Due to this a cervical disk replacement surgery would be recommended.
The function of the artificial disc which is inserted to replace the damaged cervical disk is to preserve motion at the disc space. The cervical disk replacement is a better alternative to the commonly performed anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), in which the doctor addresses the problems related to the cervical disk and eliminates its motion.
As your body ages, the spacing between your cervical vertebrae from cervical disk narrows. The wear and tear of the cervical disk also happen. As a result, the cervical disks begin to deteriorate and form a bulge with time, especially with people around the age of 60.
Along with age, there are other risks factors too which are responsible to speed the process of cervical disk degeneration. These include:
● strenuous physical activity
● Smoking cigarette or any other consumption of tobacco product.
● An acute or sudden injury, such as a fall
Degenerative disc pain can start when a major or minor injury leads to sudden and unexpected back pain, or it can present as a slight back pain that gets worse over time.
Thus, in order for proper posture, movement, and continuation of routine activities, cervical disk replacement is highly recommended.
There can be several symptoms, especially in the neck which may indicate the presence of a diseased cervical disk. The symptoms that you may need a Cervical Disk Replacement Surgery are:
● Severe pain in the neck
● Stiffness and lesser movement of the neck
● A heavy headache
● Pain spreading out to shoulders or into your arms
● Weakness in shoulders, arms, hands, or leg
● Numbness in the arms or extreme pin like a sensation
Before the cervical disk replacement procedure, you are administered a dosage of an intravenous line (IV) so that you can get the required fluid intake and medications that make you relaxed and sleepy. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia. A tube is also inserted into the throat in order to protect the passage of airway and keep your breathing continued. The cervical disk replacement procedure can last up to a few hours. Here is what happens in the surgery:
● The operation theatre has monitors around your body to check your heart, blood pressure, and oxygen level.
● Before making an incision, the area of the neck is cleaned and washed in order to kill germs and avoid infection.
● The doctor then makes a one- to two-inch cur on the side and front of the neck.
● In order to gain access to the bones of the vertebrae and the cervical disk, the doctor moves the important and delicate structures of the neck on the side very carefully.
● The diseased cervical disk is removed and space for the artificial disk is made.
● The artificial disk then inserted in the space.
● The doctor then closes the incisions using dissolvable stitches under the skin, followed by sutures that minimize any scarring.
● The doctor then applies a small dressing over the incision.
● A rigid or soft neck collar is used to restrict your neck from movement.
There can be some risks of cervical disk replacement surgery, they are:
● Allergic reaction to the anaesthesia
● Spinal injury
● Spinal fluid leak
● Change of voice-temporary
● Difficulty in breathing
● Difficulty in swallowing
● Broken or loosened artificial disk
● Need for further surgery