Disc Replacements can be performed in the cervical or lumbar spine. The outcomes are typically better in the cervical spine versus the lumbar spine. Disc replacements are an alternative to spinal fusion. It is used if the primary problem is disc degeneration or disc bulging/herniation in the absence of significant arthritis in the facet joints. Theoretically, disc replacement can preserve motion and decrease adjacent segment degeneration. However, these advantages are largely theoretical and unproven thus far.
In disc replacement surgery the disc is removed. A motion preservation device is inserted into the disc space that allows for flexion/extension and rotation through the device. The bone of the vertebrae grow into the devices surface holding it in place.