Artificial spine lumbar disc replacement is one of the most advanced surgical procedures. It replaces the worn or degenerated disk in the lower part of the spine with an artificial one made of metal or a combination of metal and plastic.
To elucidate further, this artificial disc replacement is a spine or back surgery to relieve back pain whilst also maintaining a more normal motion than other procedures like Spinal Fusion. The spine is made of bones called vertebrae and in between these bones are discs that work like a cushion to rotate and move without the bones rubbing against each other. The lumbar vertebrae and discs are situated at the bottom of the spine.
Sometimes bones degenerate because of old age, gender, excessive weight or overuse due to high impact sports or strenuous activities causing reduced mobility in the spinal area.
Indications for Artificial Spine Lumbar Disc Replacement
Not all patients who have low back pain are eligible candidates for lumbar disc replacement. Tests will be done to find out your eligibility. Otherwise, lumbar disc replacement is recommended if:
- Your back pain is mostly from one or two discs in your lower spine.
- You are not excessively overweight.
- You don’t have a significant facet joint diseases or bony compression on the spinal nerves.
- You have not had any lumbar spine surgery.
- No deformity is found in the spine.
Diagnosis and Tests
- Physical examination of the spine
- CT Scan
- Blood tests
- Your orthopaedic surgeon will take a physical examination of your spine.
- You will be asked to do the diagnostic tests.
- Inform your doctor of all your medical history along with current medications and allergies.
- Your doctor will discuss if you are the ideal candidate and if so, the surgical procedure and the best disc suitable for you.
- You will be asked to stop certain medications such as blood thinners or herbal supplements.
- You will be asked to stop smoking if you do as smoking slows down the healing process.
- You will be asked to reduce your weight if excessive.
- Ensure you eat a healthy balanced diet.
- You will be asked to fast 8 – 12 hours before surgery.
- You will be asked to take medications with small sips of water before surgery.
- You will be given general anaesthesia, so you will not experience any pain during the surgery.
- Surgery usually lasts around 2 to 3 hours.
- A catheter may be placed in your bladder to make urination easier.
- The orthopaedic surgeon and vascular surgeon will work together as a team.
- The surgeon will make an incision on your abdomen.
- Your organs and blood vessels are moved to the side to access the spine without having to move the nerves.
- The surgeon will remove the problematic disc and replace it with the artificial one.
- Your organs are placed back in their original positions and the incision is closed.
- You will need to stay in the hospital for about 2 – 3 days or more depending on your recovery.
- Pain medication may be administered if you need them.
- Your catheter and IV drip will be taken out in a few days.
- You will be asked to stand and walk a day after surgery.
- Since this surgery does not need any bone to heal, recovery may be faster.
- A physical therapist will show you how to move about and exercise your trunk for quicker rehabilitation and recovery.
- It is imperative to avoid anything that causes you to overstretch your back.
- Lumbar disc replacement improves mobility and lower back pain, but it does not completely eliminate pain. You may talk to your surgeon on realistic expectation of the outcome.
- You will be requested to do a regular follow up.
Risks and Complications
As with any surgery, lumbar disc replacement is not without any risk. Some of the complications that could occur are as follows:
- Infection of the artificial disc or the area around it
- Dislocation of the disc
- Loosening or wearing out of the implant
- Fracturing or failure of the implant
- Stiffness or rigidity of the spine
- A badly positioned implant causing problems
- Narrowing of the spine
- Blood clots
Factors affecting the cost of an Artificial Spine Lumbar Disc Replacement
The cost price may vary due to certain factors like:
- Location of the hospital
- Choice of hospital
- Cost of diagnostic tests
- Surgeon's fee
- Medical treatment
- Duration of hospital stay