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Intervertebral disc prostheses

Since when have intervertebral disc prostheses been used in spinal surgery?

Since the mid-1980s, degenerated lumbar intervertebral discs can be replaced by an artificial disc prosthesis. Cervical artificial discs have been used for more than 15 years.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of intervertebral disc prostheses?

The major advantage of an intervertebral disc prosthesis over other procedures, as e.g. spinal fusion, is that the artificial disc is designed to preserve the mobility of the motion segment and to avoid potential follow-up problems, as e.g. adjacent segment degeneration after fusion surgeries.

The possible disadvantage of an artificial disc replacement is that it is, like every artificial joint, exposed to normal wear, which requires a changing operation or fusion at a later point in time. Up to now precise figures regarding the stability of intervertebral disc prostheses are not available but it can be assumed that modern prostheses remain functional for more than 10 years.

When is the implantation of an intervertebral disc prosthesis the right option?

The implantation of an intervertebral disc prosthesis is considered for patients with isolated degenerative disc disease.
Hence, there are several conditions, which are not suitable for this kind of procedure. Please ask your personal spinal surgeon if an artificial disc replacement is the proper option for you.

How is an artificial disc replacement performed?

The most common surgical approach for implanting artificial discs is performed anteriorly (from the front). As the implants are applied minimally invasively into the disc space, there is only one small incision required.

What are the results of artificial disc replacement?

Regarding pain relief after surgery, extensive studies demonstrate that artificial disc replacement is not less effective than spinal fusion. We can even assume that under certain circumstances artificial disc replacement might be superior to spinal fusion.

What is the follow-up care after artificial disc replacement?

Post-operative recovery for at least six weeks after surgery is recommended. After two weeks, you can start a physical therapy. In general, you will be able to return to sports after 12 weeks.

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