Indications for an Artificial Cervical Disc

The indications for a cervical disc replacement are similar to those for a cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). A patient must have a symptomatic cervical disc, which may be causing arm pain, arm weakness or numbness, and/or some degree of neck pain. These symptoms may be due to a herniated disc and/or osteophytes (bone spurs) compressing adjacent nerves or the spinal cord. This condition most commonly occurs at cervical spine levels C4-C5, C5-C6, or C6-C7.

See What Is Cervical Radiculopathy?

Osteophytes, or Bone SpursA herniated cervical disc can cause the same symptoms as bone spurs in the cervical spine.
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Cervical Osteophytes: Bone Spurs in the Neck

Prior to being considered for a cervical disc replacement, the candidate must usually meet defined criteria, such as:

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It is important to note that most patients with symptoms from a herniated disc, degenerated disc, and/or arthritis in their neck do not need surgery. They typically can improve with nonsurgical treatment, such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, or cold/heat therapy. More than 90 percent of patients will experience pain relief with nonsurgical methods within 4 to 6 weeks.

See Types of Neck Pain

For patients who do not experience sufficient pain relief or ability to function, surgery may be an option. For most of these patients, both anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) and cervical artificial disc replacement are viable surgical options to consider.