Cervical Disk Replacement Surgery

Procedure overview

Your cervical spine is made up of the seven bones, called cervical vertebrae, stacked on top of each other in your neck area. The cervical disks are the cushions that lie between the cervical vertebrae and act as shock absorbers to allow your neck to move freely.

Your cervical spine also forms a protective tunnel for the upper part of your spinal cord to pass through. As your spinal cord passes through this tunnel, it sends out spinal nerves that pass through the openings between the cervical vertebrae. These spinal nerves supply your upper body with sensation and movement.

Cervical disk replacement surgery involves removing a diseased cervical disk and replacing it with an artificial disk. It is done when the space between your vertebrae has become too narrow and part of your vertebrae or your cervical disk is pressing on your spinal cord or spinal nerves, causing you pain, numbness, or weakness. When these symptoms do not respond to nonsurgical types of treatment, disk surgery may be recommended.

Using an artificial disk to replace your natural cervical disk is a new type of treatment that has recently been approved by the FDA. In traditional cervical disk surgery, the diseased disk is removed and the cervical vertebrae above and below the disk may be fused together. Disk replacement surgery may have the advantage of allowing more movement and creating less stress on your remaining vertebrae than traditional cervical disk surgery.

Reasons for the procedure

Loss of space between your cervical vertebrae from cervical disk degeneration, or wear and tear, is common. Cervical disks begin to collapse and bulge with age; this happens to most people by age 60. But doctors don’t know why some people have more symptoms from cervical disk degeneration than others.

Your symptoms may include:
Neck pain
Neck stiffness
Pain that travels down into your shoulders or into your arms
Weakness of your shoulders, arms, hands, or legs
"Pins and needles" or numbness in your arms

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