Herniated Disc Replacement

Back Surgery Information

Herniated Disc Replacement

One of the fast growing treatment options today when it comes to addressing back pain is to have herniated disc replacement surgery. As the name implies, the procedure takes out the herniated disc that is causing the pain and replaces it with an artificial disc. The procedure is now legally approved in the United States after FDA certification was completed in 2007 and the procedure is quickly gaining steam as one of the preferred methods for back pain treatment.

The idea of the herniated disc replacement came about because previous methods used to repair the herniated area were proving to be less than reliable. At the top of the list are cervical fusion techniques which sought to reinstate mechanical strength and rigidity to the back by fusing the discs with a cement-like material.

Doctors encountered multiple problems with this approach, namely:

Success rates for the procedure were not up to par with modern medical standards. Doctors noted that only about 80% of cases achieved successful fusion with the remaining 20% continuing to experience problems years after the surgery was completed.

The fused section actually restricted motion to a significant degree. The normal structure of the back allows for movement as the sections are only loosely joined together. Adding a cement-like material to this structure creates a stiff region that inhibits movement and flexibility.

The resulting stiff spine creates undue stress on other portions of the back as it moves to compensate for the reduced mobility. This increased stress has been proven to increase the likelihood that patients develop back problems on the discs that are compensating for the reduced movement.

These unwanted effects of cervical fusion procedures paved the way for the development of herniated disc replacement surgery. With this procedure, doctors install an implant which is specifically designed to mimic and replace the original disc. There are now multiple brands on the market which went through rigorous trial and testing procedures and were constantly refined to respond to the demands of the human spine.

Naturally, the procedure boasts of benefits that are aligned with the problems faced with cervical spine fusion. Success rates in the last few years have been recorded in the mid-90s with many patients maintaining mobility and strength post-surgery. Patients are also eager to report that there is no residual pain and stress in the back after installation of the disc and subsequent rehabilitation leading doctors to hope that indeed this procedure is the long-term solution to many herniated disc problems.

It should likewise be noted that like most medical procedures, herniated disc replacement surgery continues to evolve as our understanding of human anatomy increases. Today, new designs made from better materials are continually being introduced and tested to find the best options for patients. The hope is that herniated disc replacement will eventually become the most viable and well-received approach to back pain treatment especially those in severe cases. With the recent advancements and high success rates reported by many back pain treatment institutions around the world, the time of the herniated disc replacement surgery as the future of back pain treatments is not that far in the future. In fact, it might be just a matter of a few years.