Spinal fusion and artificial disc replacement are surgical treatment options for certain spinal deformities and loss of spine mobility. These treatment options are suggested if the spinal problem doesn’t respond to conventional (non-surgical) treatments.
Artificial disc replacement is an innovative and far more advanced treatment that has more advantages compared to spinal fusion. However, the procedure might not be ideal for every candidate suffering from spinal problems. Let us explore which might be the best course of treatment for you.
What is Spinal Fusion?
Spinal fusion is a traditional surgical procedure since 1890’s typically used to treat spinal problems that may cause instability, pain, or nerve compression. In this surgery the spine surgeon would fuse two or more adjacent damaged vertebrae into one. The main aim of this fusion is to reduce motion in the damaged part of the spine and provide relief from symptoms. Although this is a conventional procedure, advanced treatment options like artificial disc replacement have become popular in the new era.
The following spinal conditions are commonly treated with spinal fusion:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal fractures
What is Artificial Disc replacement?
Artificial disc replacement (ADR), technically called as disc arthroplasty, is an advanced surgical procedure invented in late 1950’s specifically designed to treat degenerated or damaged intervertebral spinal discs.
It is said to be an advanced procedure because it involves replacing the damaged or degenerated intervertebral disc with a prosthetic disc made of metal or plastic. The primary aim of ADR is to preserve or enhance the flexibility and function of the spine. Eventually the spinal motion will be restored and decreases pain.
Sometimes, artificial disc replacement is used as an alternative solution to spinal fusion surgery. Though fusion is an effective treatment option, in some cases, the spinal motion might be limited, which exerts additional pressure on nearby discs. This eventually results in future problems. But in the case of ADR, it preserves your spinal motion and also decreases the risk of degeneration in adjacent segments.
Which is Better for You?
In spinal fusion surgery, two adjacent vertebrae are joined together to prevent movement between them. If your spinal problem is due to stretched or pinched nerves, ligaments, tendons, or muscles, then movement in your spine causes pain and discomfort. In such cases, spinal fusion surgery might be a better treatment choice. In some spinal fusion surgeries, surgeons may use bone grafts in order to provide structural support for the spine.
In disc replacement surgery, the damaged disc is removed and a prosthetic disc is implanted in its place. The artificial disc is purposefully designed to provide natural movement in the spine, and the disc is made out of medical-grade plastic and a unique metal alloy.
When artificial disc replacement is compared to spinal fusion, ADR is far more advanced, with benefits like preserving spine mobility and faster recovery. This procedure may be suggested if a person has:
- One or two degenerate discs in the back or neck
- have no history of spine surgery
- have no bony compression or any spinal deformity.
If your back problem originates from irregular spinal structures along with a damaged vertebral disc and degenerative joint disease, spinal fusion surgery could be a suitable treatment choice for your situation.
Making the choice to undergo ADR is not an easy one; it depends on many factors like the location of the disc affected, age, etc. A spine surgeon suggests this procedure only after doing a thorough evaluation of your condition and general health.
If you are having any back problems or looking for a spine specialist, consult Dr. Surya Prakash, one of the best spine surgeons in Hyderabad. He is vastly experienced in treating various kinds of spine problems and is an expert in treating back pain problems in Hyderabad. To book your consultation, you can call us at +91 9848024699 or visit appointment booking.