Understanding Degenerative Disc Disease
One of the most common causes of neck and lower back pain, degenerative disc disease results from wear-and-tear on a spinal disc. These areas of the spine are most susceptible to disc degeneration because they undergo the most stress and motion.
For decades, a procedure called anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) was the gold standard in treatment for degenerative disc disease. ACDF involves removing the diseased cervical disc and then permanently fusing the vertebrae above and below the disc together.
While ACDF can relieve symptoms, the downside is that it can restrict a patient’s mobility. CTDR prostheses, in contrast, are designed to preserve motion. They put less stress on the remaining vertebrae and maintain a more natural range of motion at the replacement site.
What to Expect From the Procedure
Spine surgeons typically perform the surgery using minimally invasive techniques. A one- to two-inch incision is made, the damaged cervical disc is removed, the artificial disc is placed, and the incision is closed using absorbable sutures under the skin.
Success rates are high; in fact, CTDR has demonstrated favorable results in more than 90% of patients. Patients have minimal scarring and can return to daily activity after a three to four-week recovery period.
Not everyone with neck pain is a good candidate for CTDR. CTDR is only approved for certain levels in the spine, and it’s not approved for use adjacent to a previous cervical fusion. Good candidates will have undergone at least six weeks of aggressive non-surgical treatment. Additionally, they will not suffer from significant arthritis in the joints or have very soft bone.