Five Potential Benefits of Having Cervical Disc Replacement Instead of Cervical Fusion Surgery
If you have been suffering from nerve pain caused by a damaged or degenerated disc in the neck and have found no relief with nonsurgical management, you may discuss possible surgical treatments to better relieve your pain and discomfort. Among the possible surgical options you may discuss are cervical fusion surgery and cervical disc replacement.
Both of these spinal surgeries can be effective in treating your problem and relieving the pressure on spinal nerves in the neck, but here are five reasons why you and your doctor might find that cervical disc replacement is a better option for you than cervical fusion surgery:
- Cervical disc replacement better preserves the motion of the spine, whereas cervical fusion surgery removes motion across the operated area.
- Disc replacement surgery does not require bone grafting, which involves using bone either from your own body or from a cadaver to promote bone healing between two bones to join them together; this is a necessary part of cervical fusion surgery
- Cervical disc replacement does not require a plate be placed directly in the front of the spine, while such a plate can be necessary in some spinal fusions. While these plates do not frequently cause symptoms, some patients may develop problems with swallowing due to the plate.
- There is no risk with cervical disc replacement of non-union, or failure of the bones to heal across, while this can at times occur with cervical fusion surgery and may cause additional pain over time.
- Use of a cervical disc replacement may avoid placing extra stress above and below the level of the surgery, while with spinal fusion, there is increased risk of stress in the areas where motion is still able to occur. It is not clear how much a disc replacement may guard against these additional stresses, but any protection against these stresses (called “adjacent segment disease”) could in turn lessen the likelihood of additional problems in surrounding areas of the spine that require treatment down the road.
Some large studies comparing cervical disc replacement and cervical fusion surgery have shown slightly better improvement of function and a decreased risk of undergoing additional surgery in patients who had a cervical disk replacement.
Talk to your spinal surgeon about the pros and cons of both cervical disc replacement and cervical fusion surgery, so that you may better understand the benefits and advantages that you may experience from the correct choice for your individual spinal surgery. Keep in mind that your spinal surgeon is the best person to determine if you are in fact a candidate for a cervical disc replacement procedure.