Artificial Disc Replacement

An artificial disc is a device that is implanted into the spine to replace a degenerative disc, whose regular function is to carry weight and allow motion. A disc is the soft cushioning structure between the individual bones of the spine, called vertebra.

Artificial discs are usually made of metal and plastic-like (biopolymer) materials, or a combination of the two. These materials have been used in the body for many years. Total disc replacements have been used in Europe since the late 1980s.


 The reasons for choosing to replace a disc may vary for each condition. Generally, if the pain caused by the affected disc has not been reduced enough with nonsurgical treatments such as medication, injections, or physical therapy, a doctor may suggest disc replacement.

Potential Complications

 The following is a list of several conditions that may prevent you from receiving a disc replacement:

  • Spondylolisthesis (the slipping of one vertebral body across a lower one)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Vertebral body fracture
  • Allergy to the materials in the device
  • Spinal tumor
  • Spinal infection
  • Morbid obesity
  • Significant changes of the facet joints (joints in the back portion of the spine)
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic steroid use
  • Autoimmune problems

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