If you have a severely injured or degenerative disc, you know what it’s like to have back pain. You may have a great deal of pain when you sit, or you may notice that simple motions like bending and twisting heighten the discomfort. Fortunately, when other treatments aren’t successful, your surgeon at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery may recommend artificial disc replacement or spinal fusion.
So, how do these surgeries compare?
During an artificial disc replacement, your surgeon will remove the degenerative or worn disc and replace it with an artificial one. Usually, the artificial disc consists of metal or a mixture of metal and medical-grade plastic.
On the other hand, with a spinal fusion, your surgeon permanently adheres two or more vertebrae together, so there’s no movement in between them. Your surgeon may use screws, rods, and metal plates to connect the vertebrae along with the donor or your own bone.
An artificial disc replacement is a procedure that may benefit you if you have significant damage to a disc that rendered it useless or near useless.
A surgeon may also recommend spinal fusion if you have a spinal deformity, fracture, weakness, or instability. The instability or weakness may stem from a severe case of arthritis. Your surgeon may recommend you have this procedure if you have a herniated disc that is severe enough to require removal.
The two procedures have a few similarities but differ from one another in many aspects.
You’ll first receive a general anesthetic, so you’ll remain unconscious throughout the procedure. The location may vary slightly depending on your overall health and the location of the affected disc.
Your surgeon will then prepare a bone graft, which they’ll use to fuse your vertebrae together. Your surgeon may use your own bone by removing a small piece from above the pelvic bone, or they may use a piece from a bone donor bank. Although it’s not as common, your surgeon may also use a synthetic material to replace your bone.
Finally, your doctor will connect the bone with screws, rods, or metal plates, whichever is ideal for your particular situation. Your surgeon will then close the incision site.
Artificial Disc Replacement
Artificial disc replacement starts similar to a spinal fusion. You receive a general anesthetic, so your unconscious during the surgery. Usually, you’ll also have a vascular surgeon present for the procedure in addition to your specialist in neurosurgery. During the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen. The surgeon will move your blood vessels and organs to the side to make it easy to access your spine.
Your surgeon will then remove the damaged disc and replace it with an artificial one. The surgeon will then place your organs back in their proper locations and close the abdominal incision.
For both surgeries, you’ll need to stay at the hospital for a few nights. Generally, it takes less time for your back to heal from an artificial disc replacement than a spinal fusion because your bone doesn’t need to heal during an artificial disc replacement.
Typically, it takes several months for the bones to heal and fuse together after a spinal fusion. You’ll need to undergo physical therapy after either surgery.
Choose One of Our Long Tree, CO Neurosurgeons for Your Disc Surgery
Both the implantation of artificial discs and spinal fusion can help stop the pain you experience from a worn or damaged disc, and no matter which surgery you receive, you’ll have a surgeon who understands the key role precision plays in spinal surgery. You’ll also have a surgeon who prides themselves on helping patients do simple tasks like sitting without back pain.
Schedule an appointment with Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery, serving Long Tree and the nearby Colorado area, for help with your back pain. Call us at 303-790-1800 or use our online contact form today.