Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement

Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement

Cervical Artificial Disc Implantation is one of the latest treatments for degenerative disc disease in cervical area. It aims to relieve the symptoms of a nerve root or spinal cord compression. Cervical intervertebral disc degenerative disease is a normal aging of tissues. However, in some patient the degeneration altered the shape of the intervertebral disc leading to pressure on the spinal nerve or the spinal cord. It then results in numbness of limbs, neck pain, shoulder pain and headache, etc. This is call cervical radiculopathy or myelopathy. If patient did not response well to a course of conservative treatment, patient may need surgical operation to decompress the spine nerve or spinal cord. After surgery, we need insertion of implant or own bone graft to fill up the space of the intervertebral space.

Traditional insertion of bone graft or cage will result in cervical spinal fusion, i.e. the joint is permanently fixed and no longer be mobile. Cervical Artificial Disc Implant has been in used for over 14 years. Compared with cervical spine fusion, this technique has the advantage of allowing the diseased intervertebral disc to resume normal movement. in long term, patient with artificial disc replacement, as compared to patient with spinal fusion, has less neck pain and lower risk of degeneration of the adjacent intervertebral disc requiring further surgical treatment.

Surgery Animation:

The procedure of cervical artificial disc replacement:

  1. The patient takes a supine position and is under general anesthesia. A small incision is made at the front of the neck. Nerve monitors are applied to the patient to ensure safety.

  2. By gentle freeing of loose connective tissue. a small corridor is made on the left side of the airway and left side of esophagus. Via this small corridor, the front of the intervertebral disc was safely exposed. There is no criticial structure between the front of the disc and the covering of the spinal cord at the back of the disc.

  3. With the assistance of microscope and different microscopic instruments, surgeon removes the degenerative cervical disc from the patient and relieves the compressed spinal cord. There is no need to move the spinal nerve or spinal cord.

  4. Surgeon then uses special surgical instruments to prepare a smooth surface on the bone of cervical vertebrae for implantation of cervical artificial disc.

  5. The cervical artificial disc is implanted, replacing the degenerative disc and thus the motion of the neck is resumed.

  6. Finally, the incision is closed with suture.

Risk and adverse effect of surgery:

The exact risk of surgery is patient specific and surgeon specific. In general, neurosurgeon uses X-ray and microscopic technique to reduce risk and protect nerves. According to previous scientific data and clinical study, risk and adverse effect of this surgery is limited. Like any surgery, there are some possible complications like transient wound pain, wound bleeding or infection, sore throat and muscle pain.

Potential rare complications that cannot be completely avoided include: Nerve injury, leakage of cerebrospinal fluid, permanent difficulty swallowing, numbness of four limbs, infected implants need operation again.


  • Patients may experience wound pain after surgery, pain resolves with recovery of nerve and wound.

  • Patient can eat in few hours after surgery when anesthesia resolved.

  • Admission during depends on condition, usually takes 3-4 days.

  • Contact doctor immediately if the wound starts leaking fluids.

  • Patients should keep healthy living style in recovery period and avoid lifting heavy objects. Most patients can live with normal life after recovery. Researches showed around 90% of patient undergone this operation was glad to have the operation performed that markedly relieved their pain and disability.