Cervical disc replacement is performed after an anterior cervical discectomy.
Discectomy literally means “cutting out the disc.” The surgeon reaches the damaged disc from the front (anterior) of the spine, through the throat area. By moving aside the neck muscles, trachea, and esophagus, the disc and bony vertebrae are accessed. In the neck area of the spine, an anterior approach is more convenient than a posterior (back) because the disc can be reached without disturbing the spinal cord, spinal nerves, and the strong neck muscles of the back. Depending on your particular case, one disc (single-level) or more (multi-level) may be removed.
After the disc is removed, the space between the bony vertebrae is empty. To prevent the vertebrae from collapsing and rubbing together, the surgeon fills the open disc space with a biomechanical motion device that replaces your disc. This device preserves some of the motion in your neck and theoretically protects the adjacent discs from added stress seen in fusion surgery.