Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery

Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery Arlington, Va

It could be time to find the right surgery to remedy your back pain if traditional treatments are not working for you. At OrthoBethesda, our highly skilled surgeons have the training and years of experience to give each patient the best treatment options for restoring functioning. Artificial disc replacement is a popular surgical treatment the team at OrthoBethesda uses to recreate the normal function of the body and resolve chronic back pain. This procedure also serves as an alternative to spinal fusion, which can accelerate disc degeneration at adjacent spine levels.


If you have been diagnosed with a condition or injury affecting your spine’s discs, you may be a candidate for artificial disc replacement surgery. Our doctors are not only experts at artificial disc replacement but they fix other failed surgeries. Please contact OrthoBethesda to schedule your initial consultation with one of our surgeons, and you’ll be on your way to improving your quality of life.

What Is Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery?

Artificial disc replacement surgery is an FDA-approved treatment used for back pain relief. OrthoBethesda’s surgical team is equipped to perform this procedure on the lower back, also called the lumbar spine, and neck, referred to as the cervical spine. An artificial disc is inserted into your back to mimic your spine’s natural disc’s form and function.

Once the artificial discs get surgically implanted between your spine’s vertebrae, they’ll help reduce the pain you experience. They can also lower your risk for further spinal problems and disc degeneration in the future.

Different Types of Artificial Disc Replacements

The discs in your body are made of cartilage and work as a cushion between the vertebrae on your spine. The outside layer of the disc is known as the annulus fibrous. The interior of the disc is known as the nucleus pulposus and is made of a material that compares to gel.

Metal (a biopolymer, plastic-type of material) makes up the artificial discs used in the surgery that replaces the discs in your body. There are two forms of artificial discs used by surgeons these days:

▪ Total disc replacement: After the majority or, all of the disc tissue gets removed, our surgical team implants the replacement device into the spaces between your vertebrae.

▪ Disc nucleus replacement: The center of the natural discs are removed and replaced with an artificial nucleus.

Artificial Disc Replacement Process

During your artificial disc replacement surgery, your OrthoBethesda surgical team will make an incision on your abdomen. The spine will be exposed by the doctor after he or she moves the contents of the abdomen out of the way. One or more natural discs are removed, and the surgeon restores any collapsed discs. Metal plates are placed into the disc space, and a plastic bearing is inserted between the discs that allow them to move. Once this process is complete, your surgeon closes your incision.

Benefits and Risks of Artificial Disc Surgery

Our surgeons at OrthoBethesda know how many patients have benefited from artificial disc replacement surgery. Often, this procedure is the answer for those struggling with chronic back pain and provides the following benefits:

  • Within a few weeks, you can resume everyday life.
  • The procedure is less invasive and thus less painful than other surgical options.
  • You do not need to wear a brace for your spinal cord.
  • The surgery prevents further disc degeneration in adjacent discs.
  • Recovery is faster than with spinal fusion surgery for your spinal cord.

The FDA deems artificial disc surgery to be both safe and effective. However, any surgical treatment has associated risks, and this procedure is no different. The risks associated with artificial disc surgery pose no greater threat than those associated with spinal fusion and the possible benefits outnumber the dangers for the majority of patients who opt for this procedure. Potential problems include:

  • Infection
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to spinal nerves

Am I a Candidate for Disc Replacement Surgery?

Not everyone will be a candidate for disc replacement surgery at our center. If you wind up not being a candidate, you should discuss the alternative options with your doctor before leaving our hospital. We make sure that the care we provide our patients helps them get back the normal quality of life they once enjoyed so they can live well again. To determine if you are a candidate for disc replacement surgery, look at the following:

  • You are not excessively overweight
  • You don’t suffer from a bony compression on any of your spinal nerves
  • You don’t suffer from facet joint disease
  • You do not have scoliosis
  • You haven’t undergone any major lumbar surgery
  • You suffer back pain that can be pinpointed to two or more intervertebral discs in the lumbar section of the spine

How Long is the Surgery?

Many patients get worried when they hear a surgery will take upwards of eight hours to complete. Luckily, artificial disc replacement to cure disc disease is generally only around two to three hours long. The surgeon conducts the procedure using the front of your body so that nerves do not need to be moved.

What is the Cost of Spinal Disc Replacement Surgery?

Spinal disc replacement surgery can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 depending on where the surgery is performed, the amount of damage that needs to be repaired and the coverage from your insurance provider. At OrthoBethesda, we are happy to verify your insurance coverage as a convenience to you and provide a cost estimate.

Recovery time After Disc Replacement Surgery

If you elect to undergo disc replacement surgery, it’s important that you understand the recovery time required for this surgery so you can plan accordingly for your employment, care for your children, and requesting help around the house. For the most part, it will take patients around four weeks to recover from this surgery. It all depends on the amount of damage to your back that needs to be repaired, your overall health, and how well your body responds to the disc replacement surgery.

To avoid the recurrence of pain, here are some things to keep in mind after your surgery:

  • Lift properly
  • Have good posture when standing, sitting, walking, running
  • Take part in an appropriate exercise program
  • Make sure your work space is ergonomic
  • Keep a lean body mass and healthy weight
  • Have a positive attitude
  • Do not smoke

As with any surgery, make sure to follow the protocol of your doctors. Every human is different — a customized treatment and recovery plan should be provided.

Do Replacement Discs Last Forever?

This is a difficult question to answer because replacement discs weren’t first approved in the United States until the early 2000s, which means they are not yet 20 years old. These procedures have been proven to work when it comes to relieving pain and providing care for patients. When you talk to a surgeon about the treatment options available to you for a degenerative disc, you will find out that these replacements often last quite a long time if you work to stay healthy. As mentioned above, you should follow the recovery tips in order to get the most out of your procedure.

Schedule an Appointment for Artificial Disc Replacement Today

Pain due to problems with a disc anywhere in your body can be unbearable. Your quality of life will suffer. You might become sedentary. Don’t let chronic pain ruin your life. Call OrthoBethesda today for your initial consultation and start your journey to a pain-free lifestyle. A degenerative disc, injured cervical disc, or disc disease shouldn’t ruin your life. Get back to doing the things you love most, like going for walks with your grandkids, fishing, or riding a bicycle, by scheduling surgery with our surgeons in Va. Please contact us today with any and all questions about your spinal cord.