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Advancements in Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

Reliving Neck Pain

Cervical Total Disc Replacement (CTDR) can resolve symptoms of degenerative disc disease without limiting a person’s range of motion.

What is Cervical Total Disc Replacement (CTDR)?

One of the latest advancements in spine surgery, CTDR is performed on patients suffering from symptoms of degenerative disc disease in the neck, such as unremitting pain and neurological dysfunction.

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.

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.

Good Candidates

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.

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An Expert Weighs In

“Research suggests that CTDR may have several advantages over ACDF. First, CTDR poses no risks related to bone graft or bone graft healing – a procedure required with ACDF. Second, CTDR appears to pose fewer hardware complications, so it has less risk of mechanical failure. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, patients who undergo CTDR are less likely to suffer from adjacent disc deterioration. In fact, research studies suggest a significant difference on this point.”

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