Monday, March 23, 2015

Your Surgeon Has Given You The Option Of A Cervical Fusion or Disc Replacement? Are Disc Replacements Safe?

Artificial disc replacements (ADR) are a relatively new surgical technique.  Let me emphasize that I am NOT writing on ADR uses for the lumbar spine.  I personally do not believe lumbar ADRs are successful as I have had a few clients with catastrophic results of lumbar ADR.  I currently know of no surgeons in Minnesota who are actively performing lumbar ADR.  Cervical ADRs on the other hand have had excellent results and are now becoming a widely adopted option to standard cervical fusions. 

I have previously blogged on the subject of cervical spine fusions and ADR surgery involves similar initial steps to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.  The main difference is that after the disc is removed, a fusion is NOT performed. Instead, an artificial disc is inserted.  I recently attended a seminar involving the Mobi-C ARD in which the surgical technique was demonstrated by a surgeon.  It was clear that the ADR (artificial disc replacement) has certain advantage over anterior cervical discectomy and fusions.

Advantages - The key advantage is motion preservation as noted in the image above. Motion preservation may reduce long-term degeneration of adjacent discs, although this has not been conclusively proven.  As of the date of this article, cervical ADRs have only been used in Minnesota for approximately 7 years.  Other advantages include shorter recovery time, less complications, faster return to work and less wear and tear on adjacent discs. 

Disadvantages - There are certain FDA restrictions limiting use of the device to patients needing treatment to a single disc level.  However I believe some physicians are using a combination of ADR and solid fusion at adjacent levels. Lastly, this device has only been used for a relatively short time, and therefore we do not have good data on the long-terms results beyond approximately 7 years in the United States.

Whether you choose standard cervical fusions or ADR, it's often recommended that you obtain a second opinion from a board certified neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine surgery.  Having undergone both cervical and lumbar surgeries myself, I'm happy to offer you my personal reflections on my surgical decisions and outcomes.  I am also here to assist you with any legal questions you may have pertaining to your open and active workers compensation claim.  Contact our office today at 651-333-3636.  Our lawyers are recognized as Super Lawyers and experts in the field of Minnesota workers compensation injuries.  Visit our website today at and enjoy a free complimentary consultation.