Current evidence on the efficacy of prosthetic intervertebral disc replacement in the cervical spine shows that this procedure is as least as efficacious as fusion in the short term and may result in a reduced need for revision surgery in the long term. The evidence raises no particular safety issues that are not already known in relation to fusion procedures.
Prosthetic intervertebral discs are implants that can be inserted between the vertebrae as an alternative to fusion using bone grafts or cages. They are designed with the aim of preserving the mobility of the diseased intravertebral segment, and therefore reducing the risk of adjacent segment degeneration in the long term.
With the patient under general anaesthesia and in the supine position, the anterior cervical spine is exposed. After standard decompression of the neural elements, and partial or full removal of the damaged disc, the artificial disc prosthesis is placed into the intervertebral space. More than one disc can be replaced during the same procedure.
Various devices can be used for this procedure.