Artificial Disc Replacement
What is Artificial Disc Replacement?
What Is The Success Rate?
The success rate for artificial disc replacement surgery is not as straight forward as listing a series of spine surgery statistics. Success is judged on many subjective and objective measures. The artificial disc replacement is usually judged as successful if the patient’s pain is dramatically reduced, mobility is restored and there is no lingering complication. Please note that we do not say that the pain will be completely eliminated, only that it will be dramatically reduced.
If a patient has experienced back pain for many years from degenerative disc disease, changes due to compression of the ligaments of the spine, the spinal processes and nerves may still cause pain after the artificial disc is inserted. Nerve changes may cause phantom pain, which is pain that is no longer caused by the initial mechanical force on the nerve. So while the doctor from an objective point of view considers the artificial disc operation a success, the patient may not, because pain is still present. This is why we hear success rates varing between 70% and 96%.
These success rates for the artificial disc replacement are significantly higher than fusion operations, which are usually rated between 50% and 55%. What is not often included in fusion spine surgery statistics is the 25% of fusion patients that have significant pain from the bone harvesting of the vertebral plug in the hip.
Good pre-op testing and diagnosis are the most important part in developing a patient’s treament plan and enhances the chance for success. Also, a determination to manage post-op pain by the patient, if present, is important to the long term success of the artificial disc procedure, as phantom pain can be mitigated or stopped. One should remember that spine surgery statistic only tell part of the story where artificial disc replacement surgery is concerned.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved. This doesn’t mean these things will happen, it’s just good to stay informed as to what the risks are. This is a list associated with artificial disc replacement as well as for cervical fusion.
Risks Of Artificial Disc Replacement:
Risks include but not limited to:
- blood clots
- blood loss
- allergic reactions
Other risks and discomforts:
- difficulty swallowing
- breakage, degradation or displacement of the implant or plate
- failure to achieve fusion
- impaired muscle function
- spinal instability
- a change in the curvature of the spine
- vessel damage/bleeding
- nerve injuries, including upper or lower extremity peripheral nerve injury, numbness, clumsiness, foot drop
- reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and weakness
- tears or hardening of the tissues surrounding the disc
- deterioration of the facet joints, which are next to the vertebrae
- spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal
- osteolysis related to wear debris
When undergoing surgery using the cervical replacement procedure, surgery time is usually 1-2 hours. Most patients leave the hospital the following day. Soft collar is optional. There are few activity restrictions for the first 6 weeks.
Recovery is always quicker if you abide by the treatment plan set out by all your medical staff.