Total disc replacement is a type of back surgery that is done to treat worn or damaged spinal discs that are causing chronic pain. The procedure involves replacing the problematic disc with an artificial device, relieving discomfort while preserving normal motion and function.

THE ANATOMY OF AN ARTIFICIAL DISC

An artificial disc is designed to replicate the size and function of your normal spinal discs. Some of these devices are composed of metal, while others are made of both metal and plastic. The device features two plates that attach to the vertebrae on either side of your problematic disc.

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ARE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR THIS SURGERY?

We can determine your candidacy for total disc replacement during a physical examination at our Long Island office. To begin, we will order an X-ray to identify the extent of your pain and spinal damage, and to determine if your condition is appropriate for this procedure. In some cases, we may also order an MRI or CT scan to gather additional information that can aid in this process.

In general, we will recommend total disc replacement if you:

  • Experience chronic back pain that is caused by one or two intervertebral discs
  • Have pain that is not responsive to conservative treatments
  • Experience weakness or numbness in your arms and legs
  • Have no facet joint disease or spinal nerve compression
  • Are not significantly overweight or obese
  • Suffer from neck pain and stiffness
  • Have not had prior spine surgery
  • Do not have spinal deformities

THE PROCEDURE

Total disc replacement is done under general anesthesia and takes about two to three hours to complete.

For lumbar disc replacement in your lower back, we will create an incision in your abdomen and move your organs and blood vessels aside. This allows us to access the spine without interfering with the adjacent nerves. From there, we will open and expose the disc space, remove the problematic material, and replace it with an artificial disc.

For cervical disc replacement, we will create an incision in the front of your neck. Through that opening, we will move muscles and tissue in the area aside. From there, we will remove the problematic disc and replace it with an artificial one.

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YOUR RECOVERY

You will need to stay in the hospital for two to four days after your procedure so that we can monitor your progress. During that time, we will help you stand and walk around as soon as possible, as doing so can result in a quicker recovery period.
Once you are cleared to return home, you will need to avoid hyperextending your back for several weeks. It is also important to walk and stretch regularly to ensure an optimal healing process.

YOUR RESULTS

Most of our Long Island patients experience a marked improvement in their pain levels in the weeks and months following their total disc replacement. Although your pain may never be completely eliminated, you should notice a dramatic difference after surgery.

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