Cervical Disc Replacement

Cervical disc replacement is a spine surgery procedure that involves the removal of a damaged or degenerated intervertebral disc in the neck that is replaced with an artificial disc. This innovative treatment option offers a promising alternative to traditional spinal fusion surgery for patients suffering from chronic neck pain, arm pain, or other symptoms caused by cervical disc disease. The primary benefits of cervical disc replacement include the preservation of natural spinal motion and the potential for faster recovery times compared to fusion surgery. By maintaining the natural flexibility of the spine, cervical disc replacement can help patients regain their range of motion and reduce the risk of adjacent segment degeneration, which is a common complication of spinal fusion.

What is Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery?

Cervical disc replacement surgery is a procedure where a damaged or degenerated intervertebral disc in the neck (cervical spine) is removed and replaced with an artificial disc implant. The primary purpose of this surgery is to relieve neck pain, arm pain, numbness, and other symptoms caused by cervical disc disease, while preserving the natural motion and flexibility of the spine. The main difference between cervical disc replacement and lumbar disc replacement is the location of the surgery; cervical disc replacement is performed on one of the discs in the neck while lumbar disc replacement is performed on one of the discs in the lower back.

How do I know if I need a Cervical Disc Replacement?

Cervical disc replacement is used to treat one or more diseased/damaged cervical discs that are causing pain and/or other specific symptoms such as weakness or numbness in an arm. If you have been experiencing persistent neck pain that has not responded to conservative treatments like physical therapy and medication, you may be a candidate for cervical disc replacement.

Who is NOT a good candidate for cervical disc replacement?

Cervical disc replacement is contraindicated for people who have bone cancer, bone infection, poor bone quality (osteoporosis), severe facet joint disease, allergy to artificial disc materials, or a substantially forward curved cervical spine (kyphosis).

What are the benefits of a cervical disc replacement?

Both cervical disc replacement and anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) can relieve pain and symptoms caused by degenerative disc disease in the cervical spine. However, some potential benefits of cervical disc replacement compared to fusion include:

  • Maintaining more natural neck movement

  • Reducing the risk of degeneration in adjacent spinal levels

  • Eliminating the need for a bone graft

  • Eliminating the need for metal instrumentation such as rods, plates, and screws

  • Allowing for a quicker return to normal neck activities after surgery

Surgical Procedure: Cervical Disc Replacement

Cervical disc replacement surgery is performed under general anesthesia with the patient lying face-up on the operating table. Dr. Strenge makes a small incision in the front of the neck to access the damaged cervical disc and carefully moves the structures to the side. The damaged disc is then removed, including any pieces that may be pressing on nerves or the spinal cord. Up to this point, the procedure is called a discectomy and would be essentially the same if Dr. Strenge was performing a cervical disc replacement or a cervical spinal fusion.

In cervical disc replacement, an artificial disc is placed in the space between the two vertebrae now that the natural disc has been removed. One of several types of artificial cervical discs may be used, depending on your unique needs. These discs are made of metal, plastic, or a combination of materials and have different properties of sturdiness and mobility. Dr. Strenge uses a special form of X-ray imaging called fluoroscopy to ensure accurate placement of the artificial disc. One unique aspect of Dr. Strenge's approach is his extensive experience and expertise in performing cervical disc replacement procedures. Dr. Strenge is a highly skilled spine surgeon who has helped many patients find relief from neck and arm pain through this innovative treatment.

After the artificial disc is properly positioned, the incision is closed, and the patient is monitored. Patients may be able to return home the same day or the day after the procedure.

What is the Success Rate of Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery?

Numerous studies have shown that the success rate of cervical disc replacement surgery is higher than 90%. More impressively, 98.7% of patients who returned for follow-up ten years after cervical disc replacement surgery were “very satisfied” with cervical disc replacement surgery.

Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery Recovery Time

The recovery timeline for cervical disc replacement surgery generally follows this timeline:

1-2 Weeks: The goals of recovery during this period are selective rest, surgical wound healing, and pain control. Patients may experience some difficulty swallowing, but this is usually short-lived. Certain activities like heavy lifting, baths, and driving are restricted during this time to allow the incision to heal. Dr. Strenge will have a follow-up appointment with you within the first 1-2 weeks in which you may be cleared to drive and perform some other modest activities.

2-3 Weeks: The discomfort associated with the surgery is largely gone and patients typically feel their energy returning. Most patients may be able to return to light desk work by the end of this period.

3 Weeks to 3 Months: Over the next several weeks, patients continue to regain strength and mobility. They can gradually increase their activity levels, with the goal of returning to their full range of duties at work and home within 6-8 weeks, depending on the demands of their job. Dr. Strenge will usually order additional imaging during this time to check on healing and device placement.

Why Choose Dr. K. Brandon Strenge for Cervical Disc Replacement Surgery in Kentucky

Dr. K. Brandon Strenge, based in Paducah, Kentucky, is an exceptional choice for patients seeking cervical disc replacement. Dr. Strenge is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon with extensive expertise in the latest spinal surgery techniques, including cervical disc replacement. He stays at the forefront of advancements in the field, ensuring his patients have access to the most innovative and effective treatments available. In fact, Dr. Strenge has been specifically selected to help provide input to the FDA as part of several clinical research trials evaluating the newest artificial disc replacement implants now cleared for use in the US.

In addition to his impressive credentials, Dr. Strenge is known for his personalized approach to patient care. He takes the time to thoroughly evaluate your spinal condition and develop a customized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and goals. If you are considering cervical disc replacement surgery in Kentucky, schedule a consultation with Dr. K. Brandon Strenge. His expertise, personalized care, and proven record of successful outcomes make him an exceptional choice for this life-changing procedure.


How long do cervical disc replacements last?

Artificial discs are designed to last for 50 to 80 years through accelerated wear testing. We have clinical trial data showing that cervical disc replacements last for at least 10 to 15 years with good results, but many people have had artificial cervical discs for over 40 years.

Are there any permanent restrictions after cervical disc replacement?

Not usually, no. After they have recovered from cervical disc replacement, patients can live full active lives with virtually no physical restrictions.

When is cervical disc replacement not an option?

Cervical disc replacement is not an option for people who have bone cancer, osteoporosis, moderate or severe facet joint disease, allergy to artificial disc materials, and substantial cervical kyphosis (forward curvature of the spine).