Many people have heard about the term “artificial disc replacement.” However, not everyone actually knows what it means and how surgeons perform it. While the process behind this operation is quite complicated, it’s still possible to break it down into five stages. Nevertheless, this article will explain how artificial disc replacement works and why doctors recommend it in the first place; please read on.
The 5 Stages Of Artificial Disc Replacement
Aside from learning how artificial disc replacement works, it’s also beneficial to know why people get it. In detail, artificial disc replacement is about replacing a disc (disk) in a person’s spine.
If unfamiliar, the spine is composed of bones that are called vertebrae. Each vertebra is separated by a disc, a bone that acts as a cushion that allows back movements, absorbs shock, and supports the spine’s stability. Over the years or due to injuries, the disc(s) will become weak or damaged—which then causes back pain and numbness, weakness of arms and legs, and other issues. In this case, a doctor might advise the artificial disc replacement treatment, which typically follows these stages:
1. Conducting tests and preparing the body
Like other surgeries, the doctors will have to thoroughly check a patient’s current condition and medical history (medical records or past treatments). Several examinations will be conducted, including X-rays and CT scans, to reveal the affected area(s). The results will then help the doctors decide if the body can handle the operation or double-check if disc replacement is still necessary. Aside from that, a patient might be instructed to avoid eating or smoking hours/days before the surgery while also possibly staying at the hospital.
2. Delivering the anesthetics
In order to commence the surgery, the anesthesiologist will have to deliver the anesthetics through an IV line or directly to the affected spinal area. Once the medicine takes effect, the body will start to feel numb, which will later prevent the patient from feeling pain altogether. Additionally, the anesthesia will make the patient sleep, allowing for an easier operation.
3. Performing the incision
Once the anesthetics have fully taken effect and the patient is asleep, the surgery will then begin. In the room, there will typically be a vascular surgeon and an orthopedic or neurosurgeon to perform the operation. Regardless, a surgeon will now make an incision in the patient’s abdomen. The same or another surgeon will then open the incision and move the organs and blood vessels to the side to reach the spine.
4. Replacing the disc
After reaching the spine, the surgeons will carefully remove the damaged or affected disc. Next, the artificial disc will then fill the empty slot between two vertebrae. An artificial disc can be plastic, metal, or a material that’s a combination of both. Lastly, once the new disc is secured, the surgeons will now move the organs and blood vessels back in the correct positions and close the incision.
5. Monitoring the patient
Although the surgery is successful, it will still take a few hours for the patient to wake up. However, once the effects of the anesthetics are entirely gone, the nurses will transfer the patient from the recovery area to a standard room. When staying in the hospital, the doctors will require an IV line and sometimes a catheter for the bladder, which eases urinating during the recovery process.
Check If You Need Artificial Disc Replacement Or Not
A damaged or weakened spinal disc can happen to anyone. Accordingly, it’s always beneficial to consult the doctor about the state and health of your back.
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