New research studies by the North American Spine Society — the most respected international society of spine surgeons — have shown that when a person has a herniated disc in the neck, and traditional fusion surgery is performed, there is an increased incidence of herniation at an adjacent segment. For these people, the newest FDA-approved artificial discs for the cervical spine can be of great benefit, explains Sanjay Jatana, MD, a Colorado fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon who only does neck surgery.
“The downside of spinal fusion surgery is that locks two vertebrae in place,” Dr. Jatana notes. “This in turn puts additional stress on discs above and below the affected area, which can lead to further disc herniation with the discs above and below the damaged disc. This process is called “adjacent segment disease” and it’s one of the main issues artificial discs were designed to address.”
The benefit of an artificial disc is that it retains the natural rotation of the vertebrae in the neck, which would otherwise be locked together in a traditional spine fusion surgery. By preserving motion, this lessens the risk that other adjacent discs might herniate as well.
Dr. Jatana is trained in the use of a variety of artificial discs for the neck, but he notes that the Mobi-C disc was the first disc approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use at two levels in the neck. This can be of great benefit to those people with degenerative discs at more than one level in the neck and would otherwise need a fusion at the other level which in turn would restrict rotation.