Cervical disc replacement

Disc replacement in the neck area of the spine

Cervical discs that become damaged can cause you considerable pain, numbness and weakness that radiates into your arms

What is a cervical disc replacement?

This procedure is similar to an Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion (ACDF) except that the defect that is created by removing the disc from between the two vertebrae is filled with a disc replacement device.

A disc replacement device is made up of two metallic surfaces one of which is attached to the upper and the other to the lower vertebra at the affected disc level. These metal implants can then slide on each other directly or can be separated by a piece of medical grade plastic. The device allows for movement between the two vertebrae to be maintained and avoids the need for a fusion. The disc replacement device can be secured in place with screws or a press fit anchor that holds the implant to the bones.

Need to know

  • What happens during a cervical disc replacement? icon plus

    Your consultant will make a small incision on the front of your neck, normally 4 to 5 centimetres long. They will then use specialised instruments to remove the disc and any areas of bone which may be compressing either the spinal nerves or the spinal cord. Once the disc has been removed a disc replacement is inserted.
  • How to prepare for surgery icon plus

    Your consultant will tell you how best to prepare for the treatment. Any surgery will take place under general anaesthetic which means you'll be asleep for the duration. Your consultants will explain the possible outcomes to you.
  • After cervical disc replacement surgery icon plus

    You will be given painkillers following surgery to combat any pain you experience around the incision. The approach to the spinal column requires some pressure on the voice box and therefore it is normal for your voice to be hoarse for between a few days and weeks following surgery. Occasionally permanent changes to the speech can occur.

    Our nursing staff will aim to have you out of bed and walking on the first day after your procedure. Depending on the rate of your recovery you can expect to stay in hospital for between 1 and 3 days. Recovery will continue at home, with regular outpatient appointments to check on your progress.
  • How effective is a cervical disc replacement? icon plus

    It is important to understand that disc replacement is a newer procedure with less of a track record than the more traditional ACDF.

    Recent studies have shown that cervical disc replacement results are equivalent to those of ACDF. The risks associated with cervical disc replacement are similar to those with an ACDF.

    Your consultant will explain the procedure and answer any questions you might have.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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