Imagine you’ve been living with reoccurring neck or back pain for months. You’ve visited the doctor and been told that the only solution is surgery. You are faced with a big decision between two similar-sounding procedures: cervical disc replacement vs fusion.
What do you do? To understand the difference, let’s closely examine both procedures. Analyze which one could be the better option for you.
Table of Contents
What Is Cervical Disc Replacement?
Cervical disc replacement is an advanced procedure that helps to relieve neck and arm pain. Such pain is caused by the deterioration of the intervertebral discs in the cervical (neck) spine.
The procedure involves removing the worn discs. It is then replaced with artificial discs made of titanium or polyethylene. The plastic discs are held in place with metal plates and screws. This provides a strong but flexible spine.
In addition to relieving pain, the procedure also allows the patient’s spine to move and bend like it normally would. During the procedure, the spine can also be stabilized using bone grafts and stabilizing rods that are inset.
What Is Cervical Disc Fusion?
Cervical disc fusion is a surgical procedure used to treat damaged or painful discs in the neck. It involves surgically fusing together two discs in the cervical spine. The goal is to restore normal function in the affected area.
During the procedure, the surgeon removes any tissue or bone fragments that may be putting pressure on the disc. Then, the surgeon inserts an artificial implant between the discs to help hold them together. This helps restrict any movement to the area, allowing it to heal properly and reduce the pain.
In terms of recovery period, a cervical disc replacement offers the quickest recovery compared to a fusion. This is because a disc replacement is less invasive and does not require a long period of immobilization.
On average, most people experience relief from neck pain and return to work within a few weeks. However, recovery time can vary depending on the individual’s physical condition. To learn more, you can consult your physician to about permanent restrictions after spinal fusion.
Assessing the Risks
In general, disc replacement is often viewed as a safer and more natural form of treatment. It involves inserting a plastic or metal spacer between two vertebral discs instead of fusing them together. As a result, patients undergoing this procedure typically experience less pain and a wider range of mobility post-operation.
Fusion, however, presents higher risks of complications such as shoulder girdle instability, subsidence, or intervertebral disc collapse due to increased stress on the adjacent discs. Ultimately, patients need to consult their physician. They should discuss all viable treatments before deciding the best course for them.
Evaluating the Cost
Cervical disc replacement has significantly fewer complications. This means less potential grinding costs for the patient. The cost of the disc replacement itself is significantly lower due to the smaller incision, fewer days in the hospital, and shorter recovery time.
Fusion, on the other hand, is more invasive and costly. Both are more expensive than traditional disc surgeries, but the cost of fusion is significantly more.
Cervical Disc Replacement vs Fusion: Choose the Best for Your Situation
Cervical disc replacement vs fusion are both viable options for correcting cervical spine problems. Although both involve significant risks, disc replacement carries fewer risks of adjacent disc degeneration.
But ultimately, the correct procedure for you depends on your individual diagnosis. Speak to your doctor to discuss the best option for you.
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Last Updated on September 7, 2023