There is no panel matching the key "Alert"

Artificial Disc Replacement

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems. It can interfere with routine activities, work and recreation. For most patients, their back pain improves on its own. For others, spine surgery may be the only option to relieve the pain.

The neurosurgeons at Gundersen offer artificial disc replacement surgery called disc arthroplasty. The surgery can be used in the back (lumbar) or neck (cervical) region of your spine to relieve pain without sacrificing your mobility. Patients who undergo artificial disc replacement surgery see fewer problems with deterioration of their joints because they aren’t putting additional pressure on adjacent joints. Disc arthroplasty is a good option for many patients, but it is not for everyone with neck and back pain. Each patient is evaluated by the Gundersen neurosurgery team and must meet certain criteria to be eligible for the surgery.

Patients who have disc replacement surgery at Gundersen have significantly favorable surgical outcomes such as pain that occurs less often and is less severe. Many patients also experience fewer physical limitations and daily functions that are impacted less.

Lumbar disc arthroplasty

Lumbar disc arthroplasty is an inpatient procedure done under general anesthesia. The procedure involves replacing an unhealthy disc with an artificial one.

Patients typically return home within one to three days. Doctors recommend patients take it easy until the bone attaches to the new disc. Once this happens, patients have no restrictions.

For lumbar disc arthroplasty, the patient must:

  • Be between 18 and 65 years of age and have good bone quality
  • Have primarily low back pain that has lasted for at least six months (preferably more than one year)
  • Have had symptoms severe enough that quality of life is compromised
  • Have failed standard conservative medical therapy such as physical therapy, medical therapy or chiropractic care
  • Demonstrate disc degeneration as shown on an MRI

Cervical disc arthroplasty

Cervical disc arthroplasty is performed as a same-day surgery procedure done under general anesthesia. Your neurosurgeon will remove a damaged disc and replace it with an artificial one.

Patients are usually able to return home the same day of the surgery or the following morning. Pain from the procedure is normally very minimal.

For cervical disc arthroplasty, the patient must:

  • Be between 18 and 65 years of age and have good bone quality
  • Have arm pain caused by a herniated disc in the neck
  • Have loss of function in both arms and legs from a bone spur or herniated disc in the neck that is pressing on the spinal cord
  • Have failed standard conservative medical therapy such as physical therapy, medical therapy or chiropractic care
  • Have a recent MRI

Who would benefit

Most of the patients who are candidates for artificial disc surgery are between the ages of 18 and 60. The reason the procedure is targeted more to younger patients is that the patient cannot have arthritis in the joints. Many patients over the age of 60 are already experiencing arthritis.

What you need

All patients who are considered for disc arthroplasty will undergo an extensive evaluation. You will need recent copies of your medical records, including documentation of recent medical treatments, therapies and the following radiological studies on CD:

  • Lumbar or cervical CT scan
  • Lumbar or cervical X-ray (AP and Lat)
  • Bone Densitometry
  • Lumbar or cervical MRI
Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

Share Your Story