Disk replacement in the neck has been around for quite some time and the technology available is phenomenal. In the United States, we have FDA approval to perform up to two consecutive levels of disk replacement. Dr Kimball is involved in FDA clinical studies on pushing and exploring the limits and making sure that the approach to, and indications for, the surgery are such that he can provide the best technology for patients, give them the best long-term results and essentially create an artificial disk that is as close to a patient’s native disk as possible.
With disk replacement, patients are usually able to get off of pain medications after surgery sooner than with fusion. They tend to get back to work sooner and they tend to generally get back to their lifestyle faster.
Not every patient is going to be a perfect candidate for a disk replacement surgery. Sometimes bone quality, age, significance of the degeneration in the spine and possible slipping of spine bone can disqualify a patient for a replacement. There are also FDA legitimate contraindications. At the end of the day, I will always explain why a patient is or isn’t a candidate and ultimately recommend what is best for the patient.