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Orthopaedic Specialties

Cervical Disk Replacement

Cervical Disk Replacement imageCervical disk replacement is a surgical procedure that removes damaged or diseased disks and replaces them with an artificial disk.

Cervical disks act as cushions or shock absorbers for the bones of the neck (cervical spine). A disk that is damaged as a result of degeneration or trauma can cause a considerable amount of pain in the neck and numbness/weakness in the arms.

Our Spine Specialist, fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Brian Haycook, routinely performs cervical disk replacement surgery on patients to eliminate pain and any other symptoms caused by a damaged disk.

Is Cervical Disk Replacement an Option?

Initial treatment for symptomatic cervical disk issues may involve physical therapy, medication and spinal injections. However if pain and other symptoms continue, surgery is considered.

There are several artificial cervical disk devices now approved by the FDA for use in the United States. These devices are composed of two metallic surfaces that either slide on each other directly or are separated by a medical grade plastic. A cervical disk replacement, or total disk arthroplasty, avoids the need for disk fusion. At Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine our job is to select the device that will maintain your normal range of motion in the neck.

The procedure is performed from the anterior (front) of the body with the patient lying down on their back. An incision is made on the front of the neck and the trachea and esophagus are moved to the side so the surgeon can see the cervical spine. The damaged disk is carefully removed and any osteophytes (bone spurs) are shaved off. Next the artificial disk is inserted between the two vertebrae and the device is tested to ensure range of motion is normal.

Complications Surrounding the Procedure

Cervical disk replacement is a relatively safe procedure with a low rate of complications. However Cervical Disk Replacement as with any type of surgery, there are a few risks to keep in mind:

  • Nerve damage
  • Blood loss for clots
  • Infection
  • Anesthesia complications
  • Implant failure

Dr. Brian Haycook weighs the risks for each patient and thoroughly discusses the benefits as well as potential complications.

After Surgery and Rehabilitation

Patients generally recover quickly after a cervical disk replacement and only spend one or two days in the hospital. There are very few restrictions upon being dismissed from the hospital, but patients are asked to avoid lifting and any other activity that may cause strain on the neck. Most patients can return to normal activity about six weeks after surgery.

Physical therapy for two or three days a week is highly recommended after a cervical disk replacement. Patients should expect to work with a physical therapist for six weeks or until strength, stability and flexibility in the neck has returned. In addition to strength training and stretching, your therapist will teach you how to protect your neck during recovery and for the future.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a leading cervical spine specialist in the St. Johns or St. Augustine area, call 904-825-0540.