Cervical Disc Replacement

Cervical disc replacement surgery may be an option for some patients with bulging or herniated discs in the neck. Cervical disc replacement is a relatively new procedure in spine surgery, but research shows it can be very effective in the right patients.

Dr. Ching has over a decade of experience with spine surgery, and is board certified and fellowship trained. Though cervical disc replacement implants have been available for the past 10-15 years, Dr. Ching began offering this procedure a few years ago when medical studies showed the effectiveness in the procedure in the medium and long-term. Dr. Ching bases his treatment recommendations on the latest medical research available, and also participates in research as a member of the Cervical Spine Research Society.

When is Cervical Disc Replacement Recommended?

Cervical disc replacement may be recommended for patients who have bulging or herniated discs in the neck that are causing arm pain. Dr. Ching typically recommends nonsurgical treatment as a first course of action for these cases, but if symptoms persist or get worse, surgery may be recommended.

Traditionally, a bulging or herniated disc would be treated with a procedure called a cervical discectomy and fusion, in which the disc is removed, and the vertebrae are fused together. With a cervical disc replacement, the motion between the two vertebrae is preserved.

Not all patients are good candidates for cervical disc replacement. Candidates for cervical disc replacement tend to be younger and do not have significant arthritis of the facet joints. Cervical disc replacement may not be a good option for patients with significant degenerative changes in the spine. A thorough examination with a qualified specialist like Dr. Ching is necessary to determine if you are a candidate.

Cervical Disc Replacement Procedure

During a cervical disc replacement procedure, Dr. Ching makes an incision at the front of the neck and removes the bulging or herniated disc. Rather than fusing the two vertebrae together, Dr. Ching places two metal implants—one attached to the upper vertebra, and one attached to the lower vertebra at the affected level of the spine. A medical-grade plastic spacer may also be inserted between the two metal components.

The primary benefit of a cervical disc replacement is that it preserves motion in the affected level of the spine, which may be beneficial for younger, more active patients. Studies show that 90-95% of patients are satisfied with results 10 years after surgery.

Recovering from Cervical Disc Replacement

After cervical disc replacement surgery, most patients return home the same day or the following day. Patients are placed in a soft cervical collar to support the neck after surgery, and wear the collar for about 2 weeks.

The recovery process for cervical disc replacement tends to be quicker than a fusion procedure. Most patients are feeling better within about 2 weeks and are able to resume light activity and office work. Manual labor and heavy lifting is restricted for about six weeks.

Patients who have had a cervical disc replacement tend to have fewer long-term restrictions and limitations than patients who have had a fusion because the mobility is preserved in the spine. Long-term research studies show that cervical disc replacement is very effective for relieving pain in the right patients, both in the immediate and long term.

Cervical Disc Replacement in Tualatin, OR

Dr. Alex Ching is a board certified and fellowship trained spine surgeon with over a decade of experience. Dr. Ching bases his treatment recommendations, like cervical disc replacement for herniated and bulging discs, on the latest medical research. He also participates in research studies as a member of the Cervical Spine Research Society. If you would like to learn more about cervical disc replacement or schedule an appointment with Dr. Ching, please call our office at (503) 828-1150 or request an appointment via our online form.