Question:I went to see a neurosurgeon about having an artificial disc put in my neck. I have severe arthritis and degenerative disc disease. I was turned down as a candidate. Do you think the surgery will be advanced enough in a couple years to include people like me?
It's possible but not probable. If the affected disc space is too narrow or not there at all on X-ray, a disc implant isn't possible. The surgeon has to do too much pulling and lifting on the vertebrae to make space for a disc. The combination of lost disc space and arthritic changes make this surgery very complicated.
The risk of damage to nearby nerves, blood vessels, and soft tissues is too great. You may end up with a nice new disc but at the expense of great pain and perhaps nerve damage with loss of motion and function.
Artificial disc replacements (ADRs) are fairly new, especially for the cervical spine. With both severe arthritis and disc degeneration you're likely still a better candidate for cervical fusion.Lali H. S. Sekhon, MD, PhD, FRACS, et al. Cervical Arthroplasty After Previous Surgery: Results of Treating 24 Discs in 15 Patients. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. November 2005. Vol. 3. No. 5. Pp. 335-341.
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