Artificial Disc Replacement

Artificial Disc Replacement

Depending on the severity and location of your back or neck pain, you might benefit from artificial disc replacement.

The vertebrae in your spine are separated by rubbery cartilage discs that separate the building blocks of the spine. These intervertebral discs allow for movement of the spine and act as shock absorbers with activity. When a disc becomes damaged due to the degenerative effects of aging or from an injury, it can compress a cervical or lumbar nerve root in the spine, resulting in pain, numbness, irritation or weakness.

neck and back pain

If non-surgical treatments like medication, physical therapy or injection therapy aren’t effective, surgery remains an option. If your condition requires removing the entire disc rather than just a portion of it, you may be a candidate for artificial disc replacement.

Artificial disc replacement is a type of minimally invasive spine surgery that removes a damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial one made of a metal, polymers, or a combination of metal and polymers.

Alternative to spinal fusion

Spinal fusion was once considered the best surgical treatment for chronic back or neck pain caused by a disc damaged beyond repair. Whereas fusion results in permanent loss of motion in the affected area, an artificial disc replacement accomplishes the same objective while preserving motion. It can correct nerve root compression and its associated symptoms while maintaining normal back movement. Artificial disc replacement also minimizes the potential need for future corrective surgery in the same location.

doctor looking at vertebrae

Most artificial disc replacement procedures replace a disc in the cervical (neck) portion of the spine. Less common is artificial disc replacement in the lumbar spine. However, the scientific literature has demonstrated benefit in well selected patients.

During surgery, your neurosurgeon will remove the damaged disc and replace it with a biomechanical disc made of a metal, plastic or combination of metal and plastic.


Pre-operative testing and any other necessary arrangements for your surgery are managed by the Surgical Coordinator. Please contact the Surgical Coordinator with any surgical questions you may have.