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Neck Disc Replacement

Do you suffer from:

  • Burning pain in your neck and shoulders?
  • Pain and numbness radiating down one or both arms?
  • Weakness in your arms and hands?

If your pain is caused by a herniated disc in your neck, a state-of-the-art procedure called disc replacement surgery could be right for you.

Dr. Robert Berkowitz is the first and only orthopedic surgeon in Lorain County and western Cuyahoga County, Ohio, to perform this advanced procedure.

What is neck disc replacement?

Neck disc replacement, or cervical disc arthroplasty, is surgery to replace a diseased disc with an artificial disc. The Prestige® disc from Medtronic is the first artificial disc approved for the cervical spine, or neck, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For some patients, neck disc replacement can be an alternative to traditional spinal fusion surgery.

Dr. Berkowitz answers questions about neck disc replacement

What are the benefits of neck disc replacement vs. spinal fusion?

“Disc replacement offers two advantages over spinal fusion:

  1. Greater freedom of movement, and
  2. Less chance of wear and tear on the adjacent discs.”

How does disc replacement preserve freedom of movement?

“Spinal fusion surgery literally fuses together the vertebrae above and below the removed disc, which limits the range of motion in your neck. Unlike spinal fusion, neck disc replacement maintains the mobility in your neck—so you can enjoy the activities you did before you suffered from neck pain.”

If I have disc replacement surgery, will I need more surgery in the future?

“Disc replacement is intended to prevent excess wear and tear on the adjacent discs—and thus help avoid the need for future surgery. If you fuse one disc, or level, in the spine, the level above it and the one below it are exposed to higher forces. Why? The now-fused level is no longer doing its job. As a result, the levels above and below it are required to move more and are exposed to more forces—so they tend to break down quicker.”

What is the theory behind disc replacement surgery?

“The theory is that if you preserve motion in the level you’re doing surgery on, you will prevent adjacent-level breakdown, or the increased wearing out of the levels above and below—and thus prevent the need for future surgery.”

What are the chances of adjacent-level breakdown after spinal fusion?

“Adjacent-level breakdown is a clearly defined and identified problem. There is a 1% chance of breakdown of the adjacent levels per year in a patient who has had a spinal fusion. So if a patient has a spinal fusion at age 30 and lives to age 90, there’s a 60% chance he or she is going to have some sort of problem at the adjacent levels. Disc replacement surgery is intended to prevent that.

“Before disc replacement became available, patients with adjacent-level breakdown would have to have a spinal fusion of those adjacent discs—reducing the range of motion in their neck even further.”

Who is an ideal candidate for neck disc replacement?

“Neck disc replacement is appropriate for patients with one affected disc—typically a herniated disc at one level in the neck or cervical spine—with the remaining levels looking very healthy and normal.

“Neck disc replacement is not yet FDA-approved for multiple disc replacement, so if a patient has more than one affected disc, it’s more appropriate to proceed with a multi-level spinal fusion. I can project that somewhere down the road, we will be doing multiple-level disc replacement.”

Is the patient’s age a factor?

“No, but the typical patient for neck disc replacement is usually in his or her 30s or 40s. Older patients tend to have diseased discs at more than one level simply because they’ve been alive longer, they’re getting arthritis and their discs are breaking down.”

Find out more about cervical neck disc replacement surgery.

Call 440.329.2800 for an appointment today.

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