Stated simply, cervical disc replacement surgery is a procedure where an affected, painful disc in the neck is removed and replaced with a new, artificial one. During the procedure the surgeon can also remove any bone spurs and elongate the disc space, further relieving pressure on the nerves and nerve roots. Generally, the surgeon will use an anterior approach to reach the cervical spine, allowing for greater visibility of the problem area. This approach is similar to the spinal discectomy and fusion procedure.
The new artificial disc was developed to function similar to a natural disc, and thus it can to maintain close to normal mobility while also acting as a buffer between the two adjacent vertebrae. Because these characteristics are preserved, the chance of degeneration is greatly reduced in the vertebrae above and below the surgical site.
It is important to note that cervical disc replacement surgery is relatively new and still undergoing many clinical trials to determine if there are any further, long-term benefits or risks. Current evidence shows that cervical disc replacement surgery has just as good if not better results as the current gold standard procedure, spinal discectomy with fusion, in terms of symptom management and incidence of complications after surgery.