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Prosthesis (Arthroplasty) of the Cervical Spine

The cervical disc is a flexible cushion that separates the vertebrae, allowing slight movement in six areas.  All the movements of the 7 cervical vertebrae allow flexibility of the neck. 

Cervical arthroplasty (cervical disc replacement surgery) consists of replacing the intravertebral disc for a mobile prosthesis that completely restores original mobility. 

This technique is used to treat hernias and discopathy, although it is not suitable for all patients because there is a series of contraindications such as, for example, osteoarthrosis and deformation. In general, this technique is only suitable for young patients whose cervical spines present little deterioration.

Benefits of the Operation

Arthroplasty is performed to decompress the nerve structures compressed by the herniated disc, restoring mobility to the cervical segment instead of fusing it with plates and screws.

It provides the same relief to the symptoms of compression as the classic fusing technique, however, neck mobility is not affected.

Medical-technical description

An incision is made through the front of the neck, which is usually effectively concealed.  The cervical disc is completely emptied to decompress the canal or nerve roots and a prosthesis of a suitable size is inserted to restore the original height of the disc.

There are numerous types of cervical prostheses with different mechanical properties. Your surgeon will choose the one he considers most suitable in your case.

About the operation

Cervical arthroplasty takes place in the operating theatre under general anaesthetic. The procedure usually takes between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the number of discs replaced, although the patient is in the operating theatre and the recovery room for between one and a half and four hours.

Patients must stay in hospital for between 12 and 36 hours.

Before the operation

  • The patient goes to the doctor's office for a prior consultation, where decisions are taken and the doctor explains the surgery in detail and gives the patient an informed consent.
  • The patient has a complete preoperative study with laboratory tests, ECG and x-rays.
  • Do not drink alcohol or smoke for 48 hours before the procedure.
  • If you are to have your surgery in the morning, you must not eat or drink anything that morning. If the surgery is to take place in the afternoon, have an early breakfast then do not eat or drink anything after 9 am.
  • You must remove all metal objects during the operation (rings, bracelets, earrings, body piercings, etc.).

Post-operative care

  • You will need help to change position in bed and should avoid lying face up all the time.
  • Any drains will be removed between 24 after the operation.
  • Generally, patients get out of bed on the day after surgery.
  • You will not need to wear a surgical collar, although you must take care how you move your neck. You must avoid making sharp movements (sports) for six weeks.
  • You will be prescribed some medication, which will include an anti-inflammatory which you must take for 3 weeks, even though you may not be in pain, because it will prevent the formation of calcifications that hinder the mobility of the prosthesis.
  • After you have been released you must contact us if you feel weakness in the limbs, fever or shivering or have any discharge from the wound.
  • After you have been released you must avoid a series of movements and positions for two weeks:
    • Lifting weights
    • Housework
    • Driving

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