What is Cervical Arthroplasty?
Cervical arthroplasty, or total disc replacement, refers to the replacement of an intervertebral disc with an artificial metal and plastic prosthesis. This allows movement between the vertebrae to be maintained. Where the prosthesis cannot be inserted during the operations, an intervertebral fusion will be done.
The prosthesis is initially held in place by screws, fins or press fitting. Over time, bone will grow into the porous ends of the prosthesis to lock it into position.
Best results are achieved with patients who have motion at the involved intervertebral disc, but no hyper mobility or instability.
Advantages of the Arthroplasty
- It does not involve painful bone graft harvesting or foreign bone substitutes with infection risks.
- There is less post-operative immobilisation.
- No risk of post-operative spinal deformity.
- Less wear on the joints immediately above and below the arthroplasty.
Surgery is indicated if diseased bone, or intervertebral discs in the neck are causing neck pain, or placing pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. This may then cause pain, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.
Goals of Arthroplasty
The goal of cervical arthroplasty is to provide significant, long-term pain and neurological symptom relief through:
- Replacing a degenerate painful disc,
- Restoring the disc height to protect the spinal cord and spinal nerves, preventing further facet joint degeneration,
- Preserving motion to prevent accelerated degeneration of the adjacent healthy discs.
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