Lumbar Disc Replacement Surgery

Lumbar disc replacement is a solution to back problem which is caused when the discs in the spine get worn and degenerated. These degenerated discs are replaced with an artificial replacement made of metal or plastic. It is the more common alternative to spinal fusion surgery that revolves around the concept of joining the vertebrae. It is a major surgery that requires general anesthesia and a hospital stay of 2 to 4 days.

Reasons for Lumbar Disc Replacement Procedure

It is true that lumbar disc replacement surgery is recommended for severe back pain but not every patient with back pain is suitable candidate for this surgery. Doctors need to make complete analysis of the patient’s condition before recommending lumbar disc replacement surgery. Certain conditions for which disc replacement surgery is suggested include the following.

  • When the patient has pain from one or more discs of spine
  • When the patient does not have any joint disease or compression upon the nerves
  • When the patient is not excessively overweight
  • When the patient has not undergone any spinal surgery before
  • When the patient does not have scoliosis or any other spinal deformity

After going through all these conditions, doctors will suggest which treatment is most suitable for the candidate. Depending upon the situation the doctor will either recommend lumbar disc replacement surgery, lumbar fusion surgery or any other treatment option.

Before Lumbar Disc Replacement Procedure

Before preparing the patient ready for surgery, doctors may perform many tests for diagnosis to determine whether the patient really needs lumbar disc replacement surgery. Diagnosis begins with x-rays to identify correct damage to discs of spine. Diagnosis may be carried forward by performing imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scans in order to get exact and clear view of spine and be able determine the appropriate treatment to cure this condition.

During Lumbar Disc Replacement Procedure

The patient will be given general anesthesia. Once the patient is sedated, the team of doctors, i.e. orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons and vascular surgeons begin the surgical procedure. Due to anesthesia, the patient will feel numbness and may sleep during lumbar disc replacement surgery. The spine surgeon will make an incision in the abdomen. Blood vessels and organs are shifted to one side so as to gain clear view and access to the spine. The surgeon will then remove the damaged discs and replace them with the synthetic implant. After performing disc replacement, blood vessels and organs moved earlier are brought back to their place and the incision is stitched back. The lumbar disc replacement patient will be kept in the monitoring room some time & then shifted to a regular room for a few days.

After Lumbar Disc Replacement Procedure

After lumbar disc replacement surgery is completed, the patient may expect to stay in the hospital for 2-4 days since the artificial disc replacement surgery does not require bone to heal. Recovery period is therefore faster than other back surgeries. Moreover, patients are made to stand and walk on the same day of surgery. Patients will also be taught several exercises and will be made to do stretching to enhance functionality of the new disc. Lumbar disc replacement surgery patients are also provided with a to-do list enlisting that they are not supposed to get into any kind of heavy activities like running, jogging or lifting weights etc. Recovery may however need few weeks to few months of time. However, lumbar disc replacement surgery improves pain but does not eradicate it completely. Off course having a detailed conversation with the doctor will give a clear view regarding lumbar disc replacement surgery and whether one should go for it or not.

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