Disk replacement surgery is a procedure to replace an inter-vertebral disk with an artificial disk.
Disks in your vertebra wear out over time, and it causes bones to rub against each other once a disk is not functional. This can lead to the creation of bone spurs and oftentimes excruciating pain.
Your spine is made up of a series of bones that are linked together by ligaments and muscles. Disks made of a soft material in between each bone help keep the contents of the spine protected. The nerves that pass through the spine will be compressed if the bones or disks are damaged through wear and tear, or through some type of trauma. It is the compression of the nerves that will cause pain in the area covered by that particular nerve.
A disk replacement procedure may be indicated when this type of compression occurs. The surgeon will use special tools and selected implants to rebuild the compressed space during the procedure.
It is these implants which will take the place of your natural disk, and they will help reconstruct the space between the two bone segments and give you greater spinal stability.
Length of the procedure: Four hours.
Hospital Stay: Approximately 4 nights.
Recovery time before traveling home: You can expect recovery to take approximately two weeks. Business or First Class seating on your flight is highly recommended.
How do I know whether I need a Spinal fusion?
Have you had spinal bone fractures?
Do you have abnormal curvatures of the spine?
Do you have spinal Stenosis?
It may also be warranted in some cases of spinal disk disease.
Do you have spinal instability due to tumors or some infections diseases?
Any or all of the above stated conditions may require disk replacement surgery
Details of the Procedure:
Disk replacement surgery is usually performed through the abdomen. There are usually two surgery specialists present, one is a vascular surgeon and the other is an orthopedic or neurosurgeon.
The vascular surgeon will be the one to guide the way through the abdominal organs to ensure protect protection. When the vascular surgeon exposes the spine, the orthopedic or neurosurgeon will remove the damage to the disk.
When the damaged portion is removed, the surgeon will proceed to create more space in between the two bones. Using a microscope, the neurosurgeon will remove the rest of the disk, any bone spurs, and any other damage to the area.
Before the procedure is completed, the doctor will use a portable x-ray machine, and he will make sure the implant is securely in place. Once the implant is secured, the surgical team will conduct a test on your spine to ensure mobility and stability.
Different Types of Implants:
Artificial disks that are used during surgery can be made of plastic, ceramic, or metal. This will depend on each individual case, and it will also depend on the surgeon’s particular training.
Additionally, artificial disks come in two different types called constrained and unconstrained. A constrained implant bears the name because it has a fixed rotation point, and an unconstrained implant allows for some movement.
What happens after disk replacement surgery?
After you wake up:
A rigid body brace might be used in after the surgery in order to diminish complication possibilities. You will also have a care team who will guide you through fitting and removal.
There might have been a need to use a Foley catheter during surgery. This is a tube that is put into your bladder, and it helps to drain urine into a bag. It is of the utmost importance to be able to drain your urine so that unnecessary complications can be avoided.
There could be problems with the function of your intestines, so a nasogastric tube might have to be used. This is a tube which is inserted through the nose, and it reaches the lower portion of your stomach. Pressure and gas buildup in your digestive system will be eased by the tube, but it will be removed once your intestines recover.
You will also need to exercise your lungs in order to avoid complications from the surgery. You will be shown how to do deep breathing exercises in a series of 10 breaths per hour. To help you exercise your lungs, your physician might also prescribe a spirometer, and it will help you in the breathing process.
DVT, also known as deep venous thrombosis is a serious complication that can develop after surgery, but it can be prevented. Since you will be lying down for long periods of time, blood in your legs will tend to become static, and it can form clots. To prevent this from occurring, several methods may be employed, and these could include medications, compression stockings, and/or pneumatic boots. When you are well on your way to recovery, your physician will probably prescribe exercises to speed up the healing process and which you can perform at home.
No two cases are alike, and each patient will have a different pain threshold and need for medication. There are risks, benefits and alternatives to medication that should be explained by the nursing staff. In any case, you particular physician might prescribe some of the medications listed below:
: These will aid in reducing the risk of infection, but please be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions since improper use of antibiotics can lead to resistance and risk of greater infection.
: This medication can help reduce the risk of DVT.
: It is a well-known fact that anesthesia can make some people feel nauseous. Anti-nausea medication can help you feel better while you are recovering.
: You are likely to have a pain management plan prescribed by your doctor following surgery. The plan might call for medicine, a catheter to be placed on your spine, or for you to be given a self-controlled pain medication pump. Although you will have undergone major surgery, pain following disk replacement should be minimal.
: These might be employed to make bowel movements easier.
: The first few nights following your surgery will be crucial to your recovery, and a good night’s sleep will often help speed up recovery.
: It is recommended that you start physical therapy as soon as possible. You are going to be encouraged by your therapist to go from passive to active weight bearing exercises in a progressive manner, with the goal of avoiding as much muscle wasting and atrophying as possible.
Results of disk replacement surgery:
This particular procedure has a very low rate of complications during and following surgery. Disk replacement procedures have been performed outside the United States since the decade of the 80’s. It wasn’t until 2006 that the FDA approved the first artificial disk for use in the United States during replacement surgery. Currently there are other types of disks undergoing studies for approval by the FDA.
Risks and Alternatives to Disk Replacement Treatment
You should be aware that every surgical procedure carries inherent risks. Although these risks are often minimal, you should be well aware of them. Since every patient is different, each one will have has his or her own set of risks, and you should discuss these possibilities with the surgeon and/or your personal physician at length before the surgery.
There are risks directly related to anesthesia, but these are mainly allergic reactions to the medications employed for this purpose. In addition, you might have breathing difficulties, but any and all precautions will be taken in order to minimize your risks.
There are also risks related to the procedure itself such as: blood loss, bone, nerve, blood vessel, and/or ligament damage. In addition, you could suffer damage to abdominal organs, and this might lead to other unexpected procedures or perhaps an extended hospital stay.
You may have had a successful surgery, but you might still experience the complications discussed above, such as blood clots, an infection, or perhaps new pain. In addition, nerve damage might occur during disk surgery, and a particular complication of never damage is retrograde ejaculation.
On the other hand, your surgical team is seasoned and experienced in dealing with and lessening the chance of complications occurring directly after disk replacement surgery
. Therefore, if complications arise, the patient could require a second surgery so that the problem can be corrected.
If a complication should arise, your surgeon and/or physician will fully advise you regarding the alternatives
You must contact your surgeon/physician if:
You have a fever.
Your surgical incision feels hot, or if it is oozing.
You feel that the problems for which you had surgery have worsened.
You have a lot more pain in your legs
When you urinate, you feel pain or a burning sensation.