Benefits and Risks of Disc Replacement Surgery


If non-surgical treatments have not relieved your lower back pain, you may benefit from mobility preservation surgery. Your surgeon will replace a damaged disc with an artificial one instead of fusing vertebrae to avoid uncomfortable motion. 

Is artificial disc replacement a good option for you? Here are some of the benefits and risks of this type of spine surgery.


Preserves motion

The most significant advantage of artificial disc replacement surgery is that it restores natural spine bend, twist, and flex. Unlike spinal fusion, which limits your spine's movement by fusing two vertebrae, disc replacement only affects the one vertebral set that contains the damaged disk.

Total disc replacement is typically performed by surgeons, who remove both the damaged disc (the nucleus) and its outer shell (the annulus). A mechanical component in the artificial disc mimics the spine's natural capacity to rotate and flex. The technology allows you to move your spine in the same way you would before disc illness.

In rare circumstances, your surgeon may advise you to replace only the nucleus and leave the annulus alone. They next extract small sections of the afflicted disc to relieve pressure on adjacent nerves. To hold the prosthetic disc in place, they make minor incisions in the surrounding vertebrae. 

Protects other discs

To relieve discomfort, spinal fusion surgery immobilizes two or more neighboring vertebrae. When a vertebra does not move normally, the disc degenerates. As a result, spinal fusion puts the top disc at risk as well. Almost 25% of individuals acquire substantial new disc disease within 10 years.

However, disc replacement allows the lumbar spine to continue moving normally. This movement decreases the need for additional procedures while also protecting nearby discs from deterioration. 

Has a shorter recovery time

Disc replacement is often performed as an outpatient treatment, so you will not be hospitalized. You can resume employment and routine activities in roughly half the time it takes to recuperate from spinal fusion. You may not even need to wear a brace after surgery.

Treats more than slipped discs

If you suffer lower back discomfort caused by nerve compression, you may benefit from artificial disc replacement. The following conditions respond well to artificial disc replacement:

  • Facet joint osteoarthritis

  • Herniated disc

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis

  • Spine injury

  • Degenerative disc disease

The FDA has authorized the disc replacement devices. They alleviate pain by relieving pressure on adjacent nerves and lowering the instability and muscular tension caused by painful micro-movements generated by your spine's attempt to compensate for a damaged disc.


As with any spine surgery, artificial disc replacement surgery is not without risk. A multitude of problems, either alone or in combination, may arise.

Anesthesia issues, blood clots, allergic reactions, and unfavorable consequences owing to undiscovered medical problems, such as silent heart disease, are all potential dangers connected with any surgery. Potential complications associated with any spine surgery, including the artificial disc replacement, may include:

  • Instruments bending or breaking

  • Implants bending, breaking, loosening, or moving

  • Allergic reaction to the implant material

  • Pain in the affected area with irradiation to ligaments

  • Wound, local, and/or bodily (systemic) infections

  • Impairment of or change in speech

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Numbness or tingling in extremities

  • Nerve or spinal cord injury, possibly causing impairment or paralysis

  • Loss of motion or fusion at the treated cervical level

  • Tear in the protective membrane (dura) covering the spinal cord

  • Bleeding or collection of clotted blood (hematoma)

  • Development or progression of disease at other cervical levels

  • Tissue swelling

  • Blood clots and blood flow restrictions, possibly resulting in stroke

  • Changes in mental status

  • Reactions to anesthesia

  • Inability to resume activities of normal daily living, including sexual activity

  • Complications of pregnancy, including miscarriage and fetal birth defects

  • Death

There is also the possibility that this surgical technique will be ineffective and will not relieve or increase preoperative symptoms.

Several adverse events occurred in the US clinical research. Trauma, trouble swallowing, speech difficulties, and infection were among the most common. Other dangers may be connected with treatment utilizing the Prestige device. Although many of the important dangers are given on this page, your surgeon can provide you more extensive list.

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