The surgical approach for the an Total Cervical Disc Replacement is identical to an Anterior Cervical Fusion. The main difference in the procedures is that an artificial cervical disc is placed in the disc space rather than a bone graft and internal fixation.
An Anterior Cervical Discectomy with the placement of a an Artificial Cervical Disc, is an operation performed on the cervical spine to relieve pressure on one or more nerve roots, or on the spinal cord. The procedure is explained by the words anterior (front), cervical (neck), and discectomy (cutting out the disc). In this operation, the cervical spine is reached through an incision approximately one inch in length in the front of your neck. (See figure 2 above)
What does the incision look like?
The scar for an Anterior Cervical Disectomy with Artificial Disc placement is approximately one inch horizontally. The incision is made in a natural skin fold, and meticulously closed for an excellent cosmetic outcome. Above is a picture of a scar one year post-op.
The approach to the anterior neck makes use of a plane between muscles, which is very easy to recover from. The muscles naturally part, giving the surgeon direct access to the spine, while avoiding the spinal cord. After the disc is exposed it is carefully removed. Then the nerve root is decompressed, the offending compressive material is cleaned out, and then the Artificial Disc is inserted into the disc space.
The surgery may be done as an outpatient procedure. The hospital stay is generally 24 hours. During this time, IV fluids may be given while your body recovers and your normal appetite returns. You may move about in bed and rest in any comfortable position as soon as you have recovered from anesthesia. Walking may begin within several hours of surgery. Daily walking is the best exercise, setting a pace that avoids fatigue or severe pain. You may return to work when you are ready, and drive after you regain full coordination.
What happens after surgery?
Successful recovery from anterior cervical discectomy and placement of the an Artificial Disc requires that you approach the operation and recovery with confidence based on a thorough understanding of each process. Dr. Pashman has the specialized training and expertise to correct physical defects by performing the operation. Full recovery will also depend on you having a strong, positive attitude, setting small, realistic goals for improvement, and working steadily to accomplish each goal.