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Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery

What is artificial disc replacement surgery?

Artificial disc surgery is an alternative to spinal fusion for the treatment of instability and painful degeneration of the spine.

In a spinal fusion, two or more bones in the spine (vertebrae) are fused together – usually with metal plates and screws – eliminating motion between them.

In artificial disc surgery, the damaged disc is replaced with a prosthetic disc, which allows full range of motion of the spine while still ensuring stability and reducing pain.

What is artificial disc replacement surgery used for?

Artificial disc surgery is used to treat discs in the spine that are damaged due to degeneration or injury.

Am I a good candidate for an artificial disc replacement?

You may be a good candidate for artificial disc surgery if you have back or neck pain from a degenerated disc, and if nonsurgical treatments are not working.

Artificial disc surgery may not be a good option if more than one or two vertebrae in your spine are affected, or if you have excess bone or connective tissue putting pressure on the nerves that enter and exit your spine. Your doctor will request medical imaging of the affected part of your spine to make sure that artificial disc surgery is appropriate for you.

At Barrow, artificial disc surgery is used most commonly for discs in the cervical spine, which constitutes the first seven vertebrae that make up your neck. Artificial disc surgery is sometimes used for the lumbar spine, which is comprised of the five vertebrae in your lower back.

Medically Reviewed by Steve Chang, MD on January 24, 2022