Overview

Disc replacement surgery or discectomy is the surgery carried on in cases where the disc that cushions the spine bones, i.e. vertebrae, is either damaged or dislocated. When the disc slips out of place, it presses the spinal nerve in turn causing a severe pain. In disc surgery, the worn out or damaged disc is removed and replaced by an artificial disc. The aim of spinal disc surgery is to provide pain relief as well as normal like motion of the spine.

 

Types of Disc Replacement Surgery

The type of spinal disc surgery is classified either according to the region in which it is performed or according to the way it is performed.
The most common types of disc surgeries are:

  • Lumbar or back disc surgery: This surgery is performed for the patients suffering with a severe pain in the lumbar, i.e. the lower back, region of the spine.
  • Cervical disc replacement surgery: This surgery is done when the damaged disc lies in the cervical, i.e. the neck, region of the spine.
  • Microdiscectomy: This surgery is performed in case of herniated disc.

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Lumbar Disc Replacement Surgery

Lower back pain is very common in people, after a certain age. In cases, where the back pain could not be relieved by any of the preliminary methods, either lumbar fusion or back disc surgery is advised. In lumbar fusion the damaged vertebrae are fused together to form a single solid bone. Lumbar fusion has proved very useful in pain management. However, in many cases, fusion fails to provide the desired result due to the fact that it limits the normal movement of spine. In such cases disc replacement surgery can be helpful as it preserves the normal movement of the spine. During a back disc surgery, the damaged disc is removed and replaced by an artificial disc implant. The implant is made up of either metal or a combination of metal and plastic. Most disc replacement surgeries, take around 2-3 hours. The surgeon reaches the lower back through an incision in the abdomen. Organs and blood vessels are moved aside to reach the spine. The nerves need not to be moved with this technique. Disc replacement cannot be done to people who are overweight, have deformity of the spine or have gone through any major surgery on the lumbar spine.

Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery

Just like the lumbar disc surgery, cervical disc replacement is performed when the preliminary treatments and fusion fail to provide the desired outcome.

In cervical disc replacement the damaged disc of the neck region is removed and replaced by artificial disc. The natural intervertebral disc has a capacity of absorbing high compressive loads and has excellent range of motion. The artificial discs, developed till date, are not as good as the natural one, but, help in relieving the cervical pain and in preserving the motion at the disc space.

In order to replace the damaged disc, an incision is made on the front of neck. The original damaged disc is removed and replaced by artificial one. It is important to restore the original disc height in order to relieve pressure on the adjoining nerve.

Microdiscectomy or Micro Disc Surgery

This type of surgery is more reliable in providing immediate, or nearly immediate, relief from pain in leg caused by herniated disc. On account of this, microdiscectomy is also referred to as herniated disc surgery. During this procedure, pressure on the nerve root, is relieved by removing the material causing pain.

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