Disc ReplacementA lumbar disk replacement is a type of back or spine surgery. Your spine is made up of bones called vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other. Disks between the vertebrae work like cushions to allow the vertebrae to rotate and move without the bones rubbing against each other. The lumbar vertebrae and disks are at the bottom of your spine. Lumbar disk replacement involves replacing a worn or degenerated disk in the lower part of your spine with an artificial disk made of metal or a combination of metal and plastic.

Lumbar disk replacement is generally seen as an alternative to the more common spinal fusion surgery. Fusion permanently joins 2 vertebrae together. Lumbar disk replacement is a major surgery that requires general anesthesia and a hospital stay.


What is an artificial disc made of?
Artificial discs are usually made of metal or 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 most commonly used total disc replacement designs have two plates.


Is disc replacement surgery successful?
The average success rate of a lumbar spinal fusion is approximately 75%-80%. … For these reasons, neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons have engaged in research to offer an alternative to lumbar spinal fusion surgery. One promising area of research includes the development of an artificial spinal disc.


How long do you stay in the hospital after back surgery?
On the day of your back surgery, your main objective will be to rest. While some patients are discharged on the day of their operation, most stay in the hospital for one to five days. You will be able to go home once you have good control of your pain and are able to walk, eat and use the restroom independently.


How long does back fusion surgery take?Disc Replacement
Spinal fusion can take as little as 2 ½ hours, and as long as 6 or 7 hours, occasionally even longer. How long it takes depends on the number of vertebrae being fused, how badly the vertebrae are diseased, whether spinal nerves are pinched and need to be decompressed, and whether there is scarring from prior surgeries.


What are the dangers of spinal fusion or What are the risks of a lumbar disk replacement?
Thankfully, most of the complications occur infrequently. The complications that can occur include those that would be associated with any type of surgery, such as infection, bleeding, and anesthetic complications. Another potential complication of spine fusion surgery in the low back includes any type of nerve damage.
Like all surgeries, lumbar disk replacement poses some risks. A disk replacement requires greater access to the spine than standard lumber fusion surgery. This also makes it a riskier procedure.


Some of the potential risks of this surgery include:

Infection of the artificial disk or the area around it

Dislocation or dislodging of the artificial disk

Implant failure or fracture (break)

Implant loosening or wear

Narrowing of the spine (stenosis) because of the breakdown of spinal bones

Problems due to a poorly positioned implant

Stiffness or rigidity of the spine

Blood clots in your legs due to decreased activity


There may be other risks, depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure you understand the risks and benefits of lumbar disk replacement and discuss any concerns with your surgeon before the procedure.

What happens after a lumbar disk replacement?

Disc ReplacementYou will probably need to stay in the hospital for a few days after your surgery. Because a lumbar disk replacement doesn’t require bone to heal, the recovery period may be faster than with other back surgeries. You’ll be given pain medicines if you need them, and may be encouraged to stand and walk within the first day after surgery. Your IV and bladder catheter will be removed within a few days of surgery.

You will be shown how to move properly and how to do exercises, such as gentle trunk twists. This will keep your spine limber and help you have a quicker rehabilitation and recovery. As your recovery progresses, you’ll be encouraged to walk and stretch. You’ll need to avoid any jarring activities or motions for quite a while. Your recovery may take from a few weeks to a few months.

A lumbar disk replacement generally improves pain, but it does not eliminate it completely. Talk with your doctor to get a realistic idea about what you can expect after this surgery. Also talk to your healthcare provider about instructions you need to follow after surgery, what you can and cannot do, how to care for your incision, signs of problems you need to watch for, and when you need to follow-up with the doctor.