The natural cervical disks are a unique mechanical structure. They can absorb a significant compressive load and pressure while maintaining movement between the cervical vertebrae. Duplicating the original type and function of cervical discs with a human-made disk is challenging. Yet, medical professionals have developed various artificial cervical disks. The disks are a surgical alternative to treat problems associated with cervical disks that lead to chronic neck pain.
If you are experiencing neck or arm pain and weakness, it may be a sign that you need cervical artificial disk surgery to replace the degenerated disks. At the LAMIS Institute, we have expert surgeons specializing in this procedure. We use state-of-the-art equipment that makes our procedures effective, comfortable, and with minimal risks. Call us if you seek to undergo cervical artificial disc surgery in Los Angeles, and we will review your case and advise whether you are an ideal candidate.
Cervical Artificial Disc Surgery Overview
The cervical spine comprises seven bones known as cervical vertebrae that are layered on top of one another, making up the neck region. Cervical disks refer to the cushions lying in-between the cervical vertebrae. Their function is to absorb shock, enabling free movement of the neck. Also, the cervical spine forms a safety passage through which the top part of the spinal cord passes. This section of the spine has spinal nerves, which supply the upper body with movement and sensation.
When the area between the vertebrae becomes too small, part of the cervical disks or vertebrae may press on the spinal nerves or the spine itself, causing you to experience weakness, numbness, or pain. The doctor may recommend disk surgery when these signs and symptoms persist even after undergoing various nonsurgical treatments.
During cervical artificial disk surgery, the neurosurgeon removes the pain-causing disk and replaces it with a human-made or artificial disc, the end goal being to join the lower and upper vertebral bodies. Prior to the invention of cervical artificial disk surgery, the neurosurgeon would remove the degenerated disk and fuse the vertebrae below and above to avert motion. This procedure is known as spinal fusion surgery.
Replacing the original cervical disk with a human-made one is a newly-invented form of procedure that is FDA-approved. Compared with spinal fusion surgery, cervical artificial disk surgery allows more movement. It also exerts less pressure on the remaining vertebrae.
Objectives of Cervical Artificial Disk Surgery
Before opting to undergo cervical artificial disc surgery in Los Angeles, understanding what the procedure seeks to accomplish is essential. The objectives of cervical artificial disk surgery include the following:
Relieving Compression of the Nerves
When a disk herniates or degenerates and collapses, there is little room left for the spinal nerves and the spine to function, leading to numbness, tingling, chronic pain, and weakness emanating from the neck to the arm.
Removing the damaged disk and installing an artificial one aim to alleviate stress on the compressed nerves, giving them room to function normally and heal. If the spine is compressed, easing pressure can help prevent or resolve the progression of more symptoms like difficulty with coordination, bowel or bladder control, and trouble walking.
Maintaining Movement at the Spinal Level
Replacing the affected disk with a human-made one can help retain natural biomechanics in the cervical spinal cord whenever the neck moves. Whereas a human-made disk can assist in maintaining motion, it usually does not improve or create movement. The range of motion of the cervical spinal cord may not increase after cervical artificial disk surgery.
Note that any relief of symptoms achieved through cervical artificial disk surgery is mainly due to relieving spine compression and inflammation of nerve roots. Consequently, healthcare providers do not usually recommend cervical artificial disk surgery to patients whose signs are experienced only in the neck region.
Signs that You Need Cervical Artificial Disk Surgery
Reduced space between the cervical vertebrae due to wear and tear or disk degeneration is prevalent. The cervical disks start to bulge and collapse with age; it occurs in most individuals in their 60s. However, medical professionals have not established why some individuals experience more symptoms of disk herniation than others. Signs and symptoms might include
- Neck stiffness
- Neck pain
- Weakness of legs, hands, arms, or shoulders
- Pain traveling down into the arms or shoulders
- Needles and pins or numbness feeling in the arms
Suitable Candidates for Cervical Artificial Disk Surgery
If you have neck and arm pain, consult with a healthcare provider. Often, healthcare providers prescribe therapy and rest to see whether the symptoms will improve without surgery.
You are the right candidate for cervical artificial disk surgery if the following is true:
- You have one or two degenerative cervical disks that are compressing and herniating nerve roots resulting in arm pain.
- Traditional treatment like physiotherapy, neck bracing, or pain medication has not been successful, and you have not registered any improvement.
- You are not allergic to metals.
- You have good overall health without signs of osteomalacia, arthritis, osteoporosis, or infection.
If degeneration has affected more than two disks or you have segmental instability or any form of hereditary or metabolic bone disease, you are unsuitable for this surgical procedure. This procedure is also not recommended for persons who have previously had spinal fusion or any other surgeries adjacent to or at the same cervical levels.
Preparing for Cervical Artificial Disk Surgery
Inquire from your doctor about what you need to do before undergoing the procedure. Here are the various things your neurosurgeon may require you to do:
- If you smoke, your neurosurgeon may ask you to stop before the treatment and not smoke for the period after surgery
- Inform them if you or your family member is allergic to general anesthesia
- Inform them of any drugs you are on, including over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements. Your doctor may ask you to stop using drugs such as aspirin that thin blood and could increase bleeding.
- Ask your doctor if you can take your regular medicines with a small amount of water on the day of your surgery.
- Before the surgical procedure, you will likely be instructed when to stop drinking and eating. The doctor may advise you not to drink or eat anything after midnight of the night before the surgery.
Just before your procedure begins, your surgeon will set up an IV (intravenous) line to enable you to receive medications and fluids to make you sleepy and relaxed. Usually, the surgeon will administer general anesthesia first before starting the IV line. The surgeon may administer medication through the intravenous line to make you sleep and insert a tube in your throat to boost your breathing and safeguard your airway.
The process lasts a short period and begins with the surgeon placing monitors to examine your oxygen level, heart, and blood pressure. The doctor then cleans the neck area, where they will make the incision, using a unique solution that kills skin-based germs.
The surgeon then makes a small cut (a two- or one-inch incision) on the front or side of the neck. Through this incision, the surgeon carefully moves the essential neck structures aside until they can see the cervical disk and vertebral bones.
The surgeon then removes the affected disk and replaces it with an artificial one. They then close the incision using absorbable stitches (sutures) beneath the skin to minimize scarring. The surgeon then applies a dressing over the cut and may put a soft or rigid neck collar on the neck to limit motion. After that, the doctor will transfer you to the recovery room.
The above procedure may differ slightly from the one you undergo based on your medical condition and the medical provider conducting the operation. Speak with your medical provider concerning the steps they will follow during your treatment.
After the Procedure
While recovering, the doctor will observe you until the anesthesia wears off. It is normal to experience pain after the surgery, and the doctor may give you pain medication while you are still in the recovery room.
The average hospital stay after the operation is one to two days. During your stay at the hospital, the doctor may continue administering intravenous fluids until you can drink fluids on your own. Once you can drink by yourself, you can begin eating your usual diet. You will continue taking pain relievers if necessary, and your nurse will check the dressing and assist you with going into the bathroom. The doctor may require you to wear a support collar and encourage you to move around when possible.
Rehabilitation and recovery at home might be slightly different for every person. However, generally, here is what you may expect:
- You might start physiotherapy after some weeks
- You will slowly start resuming your daily activities. Ask your doctor about any activities you are restricted from doing and when it is appropriate to begin taking a regular bath or shower.
- You might need to visit the hospital for the surgeon to remove the sutures.
- You will be capable of eating your usual diet
- You might have to continue putting on a rigid or soft neck support
- You should be capable of returning to complete daily activities in four to six weeks
Call your doctor if you experience difficulty breathing, hoarseness or voice change, difficulty swallowing, weakness or numbness, pain that persists even after pain relievers, swelling, discharge, redness, bleeding from the incision site, a headache, or a fever. Your doctor may instruct you further regarding what you must do after the procedure.
Cervical Artificial Disk Surgery Risks
While every surgical procedure has some risks, cervical artificial disk surgery is relatively safe. Discuss the benefits and risks of this procedure compared with other forms of cervical spinal cord surgery with your neurosurgeon. Some possible risks of this procedure include the following:
- Need for another surgery
- Loosened or broken artificial disk
- Failure to alleviate symptoms
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Voice change
- Spinal fluid leak
- Nerve injury
- Reaction to anesthesia
There could be more risks based on your medical condition. Discuss any concerns you have with your neurosurgeon before undergoing the procedure.
Success Rate of the Cervical Artificial Disc Surgery In Los Angeles
Although cervical artificial disk surgery is a recent invention, the data gathered thus far has revealed it as an effective and safe procedure to reduce arm and neck pain stemming from the compressed spine or spinal nerve roots. Several studies have shown the success rates of cervical artificial disk surgery to be better than or similar to those of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.
But there is no data regarding the failure or success of cervical artificial disk surgery in the long run, like over fifteen or twenty years, presenting unknown risks that must be considered when deciding whether or not to undergo surgery. Studies show that the relief of symptoms achieved in the initial months after cervical artificial disk surgery can last for many years.
The Cost of Cervical Artificial Disc Surgery in Los Angeles
The average cost for cervical artificial disc surgery in Los Angeles includes the facility, device, anesthesiologist, and surgeon’s fees. If your health insurance does not cover this type of surgery, the cost ranges between $30,000 and $50,000. The charges vary based on the surgeon’s expertise, facility, health insurance plan, et cetera.
Cervical Artificial Disk Surgery vs. Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)
Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) surgical procedure has been considered for a long time as the best method to treat neurologic deficits and pain resulting from spinal compression and nerve root compression.
While both cervical artificial disk surgery and ACDF procedures aim to extract and replace a diseased disc with an artificial disk, they differ. ACDF joins the adjacent vertebrae, resulting in loss of movement at that spinal level.
Where both cervical artificial disk surgery and ACDF are suitable options, some possible benefits of opting for cervical artificial disk surgery may include the following:
- Allowing faster resuming of neck movement after the procedure.
- Eliminating possible issues and complications related to the requirement for a spinal instrumentation and bone graft for spinal fusion.
- Minimizing the risk for neighboring cervical spine segments to develop degenerative disc disease.
- Maintaining a more natural neck motion.
Other considerations may also make ACDF an ideal option for particular patients. For example, the procedure has been proven effective and safe because it has been used for decades. Additionally, there are several cases where ACDF is an option but cervical artificial disk surgery is not, for example, when the patient has bone weakness, progressed spinal degeneration, or other severe underlying health conditions.
Find a Neurointerventional Surgeon Near Me
You need not continue living in pain if you suffer from cervical spine problems. A disk replacement could be your way out. There is no doubt that California has no shortage of expert spine surgeons. However, if you wish to undergo professional cervical artificial disc surgery in Los Angeles, we at the LAMIS Institute can help.
We work closely with our patients to determine an ideal solution for their condition. We will review your previous surgical procedures and current medical condition to determine whether cervical artificial disc surgery suits you. We are devoted to working with you to help you lead a pain-free and comfortable life. Contact us today at 310-734-6088 to learn more about cervical artificial disk surgery and all the other procedures and treatments we offer.