Artificial Disc Replacement for Herniated Disc and Pinched Nerves


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Contact Information

Have your physician fax your most recent MRI report and all symptom and treatment information to the Spine Clinic at (608) 263-4995. Once your medical information is reviewed, the spine clinic staff will contact you.

UW Health spine surgeons in Madison, Wisconsin perform cervical disc arthroplasty (artificial disc replacement), a type of spinal surgery that addresses pinched nerves and chronic pain due to intervertebral disc compression (herniated disc).
What are cervical discs?
Cervical discs provide cushion for the neck's seven vertebrae and contribute to pain-free motion and rotation.
Pinched nerves and the associated neck pain often result from herniation, where the cervical discs bulge or rupture, or bone spurs. Until recently surgical solutions were limited to spinal fusion, during which the problematic discs are removed and replaced them with a bone graft, essentially fusing the discs together.
Cervical Disc Arthroplasty: The Procedure
Cervical disc arthroplasty is similar to fusion. The initial incision is identical, as is the removal of the herniated disc. However, instead of replacing the disc with a graft, surgeons insert a ball-and-socket joint (pictured) in the spine.
The inserted joint maintains the height of the disc, reducing compression, and also maintains the disc's mobility, so the patient's range-of-motion is restored.
The procedure takes one to two hours. Patients are commonly discharged the day following surgery and return to full activity within six weeks.
  • Ball-and-socket joint for cervical disc arthroplasty

    The ball-and-socket joint inserted during cervical disc arthroplasty

    Patients can move right away. They do not have to wear a brace after surgery. Recovery times are significantly quicker than those associated with spinal fusion.
  • Overall long-term relief of pain is superior to that of spinal fusion.
  • Limits stress on adjacent cervical discs, which results in a significantly reduced need for additional surgeries.
  • Restored range-of-motion is close to that of a normal, healthy disc.
  • Fewer post-operative complications.
Should I get a cervical disc arthroplasty?
Cervical disc arthroplasty cannot be used for all patients with disc problems. Patients with severe deformity of the spine, wherein the spine is dramatically angulated, most likely are better served by spinal fusion, because arthroplasty cannot restore the spine's proper angle. Patients with severe spinal cord compression and patients who need to have multiple disc levels addressed also benefit from spinal fusion or other options.
Patients with one herniated disc, rather than multilevel herniation, are the best candidates for cervical disc arthroplasty.