Disc replacements can be performed in the cervical area (neck and shoulders) or lumbar spine (lower back), although the outcomes are typically better in the cervical spine. Disc replacements are an alternative to spinal fusion, which can be a much more involved surgery.
In disc replacement surgery, the disc is removed. A motion preservation device is then inserted into the disc space that allows for flexion, extension, lateral bending and rotation through the device. The bone of the vertebrae grows into the device’s surface, holding it in place.
Cervical and lumbar pain are extremely common, and so are the reasons for experiencing them. Muscle sprains and strains are among the most frequent reasons for this type of discomfort, but disc degeneration and bulging or herniated discs are two of the most likely reasons you might need cervical and lumbar disc replacement surgery. These replacements are done if the primary problem is disc degeneration or disc bulging/herniation in the absence of significant arthritis in the facet joints, instability or deformity.
Our goal at the DISC Spine Institute is to permanently remove the chronic pain associated with cervical and lumbar disc pain as quickly as possible, doing so by the least invasive means possible. Sometimes that means lumbar and cervical disc replacement surgery. This type of surgery is intended to heal the pain associated with the damaged disc while preserving motion.
Living with lumbar and cervical pain can be unpleasant at best, with prolonged discomfort and convalescence. Because there are so many different conditions that can result in this type of pain, it’s important to see a doctor quickly and get a proper diagnosis so you know what you’re dealing with. Some spinal conditions can cause further degeneration, leading to dangerous outcomes if left untreated.
At your initial appointment at the DISC Spine Institute, our friendly staff will collect your registration forms as well as any other pertinent information. Be sure to alert us to any prior medical conditions you have suffered and bring along your MRI if you have already had one. Our trusted surgeons will study your medical history and any prior imaging, and you will have an opportunity to discuss any symptoms you have been experiencing.
At this time, our doctors will also discuss whether they feel that any additional tests, including x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, EMG/NCSs, or blood tests, are needed. These will help us to pinpoint the precise source of your pain. Once these steps have been completed, we’ll have sufficient information to make a diagnosis and then establish your treatment plan.
The DISC Spine Institute’s two world-class surgeons, Dr. Mark Valente and Dr. Andy Indresano consider surgery a last resort instead of looking for a reason “to cut,” like many other surgeons. They pride themselves on their conservative approach, making every attempt to heal patients’ pain using non-surgical treatments first. This typically involves a combination of rest, activity modification, home exercises, physical therapy, and medications including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and other medications as necessary.
If a patient is still in pain after several months of conservative treatments or if surgery turns out to be the most feasible/literature supported option, the DISC Spine Institute will proceed with the most minimally invasive surgical treatment possible. Our surgeons are leaders in their field and are among a very small group of top surgeons around the world—just 10%!—who have been specially trained to perform these cutting-edge minimally invasive procedures.
Cervical and lumbar disc replacement surgery is typically performed through a small incision with minimal blood loss and limited tissue disruption. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back are preserved instead of being dissected through. Some of these procedures can be done on an outpatient basis, while some individuals will stay in the hospital for one or more days, depending on the severity of their condition.
Depending on how many levels and the location, could be outpatient or require an overnight stay in the hospital.
While not technically minimally invasive, care will be made to keep incisions and tissue disruption to a minimum.
This procedure will cause minimal blood loss with limited tissue disruption.
Patients are usually up and walking hours after surgery. Often back to work 1 week after surgery. No heavy lifting, twisting or bending for 6 weeks.
The procedure is approximately 60 minutes.
Not all patients and procedures are the same. The above is an example of what the typical patient can expect from some minimally invasive procedures.
The time and amount of detail involved in the surgery can also impact the recovery time for cervical and lumbar disc replacement. However, patients are typically up and walking just hours after their procedure and are released to go back to work after about a week.
DISC Spine Institute puts tremendous emphasis on guiding patients through the recovery period after spinal surgery. The entire staff is committed to the health and well-being of our patients, providing continued recovery support with any necessary pain medications, muscle relaxants, support bracing, and metabolic supplements to aid in the healing of bones, nerves, and soft tissue, as well as topical scar healing medications and physical therapy, when indicated. In addition to Dr. Valente and Dr. Indresano, our experienced medical assistants and midlevel providers provide an enhanced level of support to help guide patients all the way through the recovery phase.
Every single thing we do here at the DISC Spine Institute is undertaken with one main goal in mind: To get you well and back to enjoying the life you deserve as quickly as possible.