CALL NOW FOR AN APPOINTMENT 540.725.9771

Online Appointment Requests

For convenient scheduling, request an appointment online.

What is cervical arthroplasty (Cervical disc replacement)?

By James M. Leipzig, M.D., F.A.C.S. on
neck

The cervical spine is composed of seven vertebrae and five discs. The discs, which are located between each vertebrae, act as shock absorbers, and along with the joints of the cervical spine, allow for motion. As a consequence of aging or injury, the discs can potentially rupture, resulting in a herniated disc, with pinching and inflammation of a cervical nerve. This will result in significant pain down the arm, along with possible numbness and weakness.

Although most cervical disc herniations will heal with time, medications and therapy, a small number of patients will require surgery. During surgery, the disc is removed, along with the disc fragment that is pinching the nerve. Following disc removal, the surgeon must then either fuse the two bones together, resulting in loss of motion at that level, as well as greater stress in the remaining discs. Rather than fusing the bones together, some patients are a candidate for a technology that allows continued motion at the surgical level. This is a cervical disc replacement, also referred to as a total disc replacement or cervical arthroplasty. A cervical arthroplasty allows for continued motion at the surgical level, therefore maintaining range of motion in most patients, as well as protecting the adjacent discs.

Procedure

If a disc replacement is planned, the first part of the procedure is identical to a cervical fusion. Under general anesthesia, a small incision is made over the disc on the front of the neck. The injured disc is located and removed (usually with the assistance of a surgical microscope).

At this point, rather than a fusion, with screws and a plate and bone graft, the arthroplasty device is sized, selected and positioned under X-ray control. The procedure is often followed with an overnight stay, although many patients are allowed to go home the same day as surgery.

Recovery

Recovery after a disc replacement is easier than with a fusion because there is, of course, no fusion to heal. Additionally, most patients note they are more comfortable and have less postoperative pain. Returning to work is earlier than with a fusion.

Not all patients are candidates for cervical arthroplasty. Significant arthritis, poor bone quality, or difficulties obtaining radiographic images of the involved area are all considered contraindications. If you are a candidate, the literature does show excellent long-term results and decreased adjacent segment wear.

James Leipzig, M.D., F.A.C.S. is a fellowship-trained Virginia spine surgeon who offers cervical disc arthroplasty, along with minimally invasive and microsurgical spinal surgery. Please feel free to contact Dr. Leipzig at the Spine Center in Salem, Virginia today.

Contact

DRIVING DIRECTIONS
(540) 725-9771

Hours

Mon & Thur 8am to 5pm
Tues, Wed & Fri 8:30am to 5pm

FROM THE BLOG

  • spinesurgeryrecovery

    Recovery from Spine Surgery

    Dr. Leipzig is a board-certified Virginia spine surgeon with over two decades of experience. For more information about spinal surgery prep, post-operative instructions, robotic spine surgery, and any other spine-related questions, contact Dr. Leipzig at our spine care office today.  What comes after spine surgery? While modern advancements and minimally invasive spine procedures have made spinal surgery less painful and …

  • spinalstenosis

    Spinal Stenosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

    Dr. Leipzig is a board-certified Virginia spine surgeon with over two decades of experience. He treats spinal stenosis, specializing in procedures like minimally invasive lumbar laminoplasty, microsurgical lumbar surgery, robotic spine surgery, disc arthroplasty, and more. While it’s normal for our spines to change from natural wear and tear as we age, in some cases this degeneration in the …

  • sciatica

    Symptoms of Lumbar Disc Herniation

    Dr. Leipzig is a board-certified Virginia spine surgeon with over two decades of experience. He specializes in procedures including robotic spine surgery, microsurgical lumbar surgery, disc arthroplasty, minimally invasive spine surgery, and more. To learn more or schedule an appointment, please contact our office. The discs in the spine support our upper body through all the actions of daily life, …

"I enjoy interacting with patients and helping them understand their condition and treatment options. Spine problems and spinal surgery can be stressful. It’s an honor to be able to treat patients and guide them toward recovery."
James Leipzig, M.D., F.A.C.S.