Motion Preservation

Disc Replacement in the Spine

Learn About Colorado Neurosurgery for Motion Preservation Treatment

Total disc replacement is a surgical procedure in which the diseased or damaged intervertebral discs of the spinal column are replaced with an artificial disc to restore the normal function and movement of the spine. The discs in your spine are soft cushions that sit between each vertebra, which are the bones that make up the spinal column. Not just any doctor can handle a total disc replacement or motion preservation surgery. A trained Neurosurgeon such as one from Dr. Brent Kimball must be trusted with this delicate procedure.

How Does Motion Preservation Work?

Total disc replacement is a relatively new procedure that has developed as an alternative to spinal fusion for patients who have back pain from diseased or damaged intervertebral discs. Patients with back pain caused from one or two intervertebral discs with no significant facet joint disease are recommended for artificial disc replacement.

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Total disc replacement surgery may be recommended in patients who:

  • Have back pain from degenerative disc disease.
  • A condition of gradual degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae caused by the natural aging process that have not responded to non-surgical treatment options.

Total disc replacement surgery is contraindicated in patients with:

Spinal infection
Allergy or sensitivity to implant materials
Spinal tumor
Use of steroids for long duration
Previous spinal surgery
Morbid obesity

Diagnosis for Motion Preservation

Your doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical examination. Certain tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT or CAT scan), and X-rays may be recommended to determine the source of your back pain. Your physician may also perform a discography, a procedure to determine which disc in the spine is causing pain. During a discography procedure, a special dye is injected into the disc, and then X-rays and a CT scan are taken to verify which disc is causing pain.

Total Disc Replacement Procedure

The aim of total disc replacement is to replace the damaged painful disc while restoring motion to the spine. Total disc replacement surgery is performed under general anesthesia. During the surgery, you will be positioned on your back on an operating table. Your surgeon will make an incision near your belly button. Through this approach the organs and the blood vessels are carefully moved aside to gain access to the spine. An X-ray is then taken to see a well-defined image of the disc to be replaced.

The surgeon will then remove the diseased disc and the disc space is prepared to receive your new artificial disc. The metal endplates of the implant are inserted and tapped into the correct position. Finally, the sliding polyethylene core is placed between the endplates. As the vertebrae are returned to normal posture, the pressure of the spinal column places the endplates into the vertebral bones and secures the sliding core in position. After the procedure, another X-ray is taken to verify the position and fit of the new disc.

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