When a disc within the spine is damaged, the pain that results can be devastating. It’s a problem that’s affected many people over the years, and recently, medical advancements have been made that can help to alleviate the problem. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States in October of 2004, artificial disc surgery has been shown to be an effective way of helping those with damaged discs. In this article, we’ll discuss the surgery in order to help you to understand the process.
In the past, those who have damaged discs in the back have had to undergo a surgery known as spinal fusion. Discs are located between the vertebrae of the back, allowing cushioning and shock support. When a disc is damaged, doctors often remove the disc and fuse the two vertebrae together. While it can help the sufferer, not all spinal fusion surgeries are successful. Studies have shown that the success rates for the spinal fusion surgery sit at around 75 percent. Also, the recovery time for the surgery can be extensive, requiring up to 24 months to fully take hold. The new surgical process that has been approved involves the installation of an artificial disc where the damaged disc was located. This type of surgery can help the patient to keep their range of motion, as spinal fusion surgery may result in a loss of flexibility. There are many different artificial discs available for installation, but in the United States, only one has been approved. Known as the Charite artificial disc, the device is made of three pieces. There is a sliding core that is made out of plastic, along with two endplates that are made out of a cobalt chromium alloy. The sliding core allows the flexibility of the back to be successfully maintained, providing ample relief to the afflicted individual. The device is made out of the same materials that have been used in knee replacement implants, so it has been shown to be generally well-accepted by the human body.
In order to perform the surgery, the patient needs to be lying on their backs. By making an incision near the belly button, the physician will be able to remove the damaged disc, replacing it with the new artificial one. The surgery is performed primarily to offer a similar level of pain relief as spinal fusion surgery, while still allowing the range of motion of the spine to be unaffected.
Artificial disc surgery takes an average of four days in the hospital before the patient is allowed to go home. In some cases, the use of a back brace is recommended post-surgery in order to allow support for the abdominal muscles. The artificial discs have been thoroughly tested, and the implants have shown to be effective for at least seventeen years given the current research.
Now that you know more about artificial disc surgery, you’ll be better able to make an informed decision regarding how you want to deal with your damaged disc.