Cervical disc replacement is the replacement of the intervertebral disc with a mobile prosthesis that fully restores the original mobility.
The prosthesis or cervical arthroplasty is a mobile device that is placed between two vertebral bodies of the neck replacing the intervertebral disc that joins them. It is designed to maintain the same functions of support and mobility of the natural intervertebral disc.
Currently, there are many types of cervical prostheses. Its fundamental characteristic is a mobile polyurethane core, semi-constrained or not by a protective membrane and contact surfaces that are integrated into the bone of the vertebrae. These are formed by different materials, usually titanium and chromium-cobalt, which have been used for many years in other implants such as hip or knee prostheses.
Related article: Cervical disc replacement devices
Which are the advantages?
The cervical prosthesis or cervical arthroplasty is currently the best option for the treatment of cervical disc herniation, since the herniated fragment is removed, the nerve root or the affected marrow is decompressed and the intervertebral disc is replaced by a device that performs the same functions than this one, maintaining the mobility of that segment as in the natural vertebrae and the harmony of the global movement of the neck.
Traditionally, when myelopathy or compression radiculopathy occurred due to a cervical disc herniation, the surgical treatment used was cervical arthrodesis.
What is the technique about?
In this procedure, the surgeon replaces a degenerative or damaged spinal disc, with an implant aimed to preserve movement in your neck. This procedure has the potential to alleviate pain caused by compressed nerves in the cervical spine.
Also, the postoperative period of arthrodesis usually requires several days of hospital admission, unlike the mobile cervical prosthesis that allows the patient to go home 24 hours after the intervention. If bone grafting is used between the vertebrae, this entails pain in the area and risk of complications with the wound or nearby running nerves. A collar is used for about 8 weeks and there are rare changes such as dysphagia (pain when swallowing) in relation to the rubbing of the plaque with the oesophagus. Another complication that may occur is pseudoarthrosis or lack of fusion of the vertebral bodies and the bone graft or implant applied, causing pain and performing another surgery to achieve intervertebral fusion.
You might also want to read: How is cervical disc replacement surgery performed?