The Benefits and Risks of Disc Replacement Surgery

Orthopedic spine surgery can be a daunting prospect for anyone suffering from chronic back pain. Disc replacement surgery for a cervical disc or lumbar disc is an excellent option for patients who have exhausted non-surgical treatments and need surgical intervention. This procedure involves removing a damaged or diseased disc and replacing it with an artificial one, which aims to restore mobility, reduce pain, and improve overall quality of life. Here are some of the pros and cons of disc replacement surgery and how to know whether it could be the right procedure for you.

The Benefits of Disc Replacement Surgery

  • Symptom relief: Replacing a damaged disc with an artificial one can help to reduce pain and other symptoms. For patients who have been relying on pain medications or modifying their lifestyle due to chronic back pain, disc replacement surgery can be life-changing. The new disc will provide better vertebral support to reduce everyday discomfort and improve quality of life.
  • Improve mobility: While fusion surgery reduces back pain by fusing vertebrae together, disc replacement inserts a fully mobile artificial disc so that the spine can move and bend as it should. The artificial disc continues to provide support for the vertebrae, allowing the patient to move and flex their back freely.
  • Reduced recovery: Compared to spinal fusion, disc replacement has a shorter recovery. This allows the patient to resume normal activities much sooner.
  • Reduced risk of complications: Disc replacement surgery is often preferred by surgeons because it is associated with fewer risks. Compared to fusion surgery, disc replacement patients have a reduced risk of adjacent segment disease (where adjacent discs become damaged due to increased stress on the spine) and instability.

The Downsides/Risks of Disc Replacement Surgery

  • Surgical risks: As with any surgery, there are some risks associated with disc replacement. These include the risk of infection, nerve damage, complications from the anesthesia, and blood clots. Your doctor will closely monitor you and prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of a post-surgery infection.
  • Implant failure: While uncommon, there is a risk that the artificial disc may not function properly or may fail. This could lead to a need for revision surgery.
  • Allergic reaction: Some patients may have an allergic reaction to the materials used in the artificial disc.
  • Limitations: Disc replacement surgery is not suitable for everyone, and it is not yet widely available. Some patients may not be candidates for this technique and will require an evaluation to determine whether disc replacement is appropriate for them.

All things considered, disc replacement is a highly recommended option for most patients and could make a world of difference in your health and quality of life. This minimally invasive orthopedic spine procedure helps you maintain full mobility of your spine while relieving chronic back pain.

Read more about disc replacement surgery:

The Greatest Advancement in Spine Surgery for Lumbar Disc Herniations

How Successful is Disc Replacement Surgery?

Who is a Good Candidate for Disc Replacement Surgery?

Cervical Disc Replacement Costs Less Than Fusion Surgery

9 Reasons Why You Should Do Lumbar Disc Replacement Instead of Fusion Surgery

Dr. Stephen Pehler is a board-certified, fellowship-trained, Denver-based orthopedic spine surgeon. He is dedicated to being up to date on spine surgical treatment options and is a staunch advocate for disc replacement surgery. To learn whether this procedure could be right for you, schedule your consultation with Dr. Pehler by calling 303-695-6060 or contacting us online today.