Artificial Cervical Disc Replacement
The Medtronic Prestige and Depuy Prodisc-C have been approved by the FDA for use in patients to treat cervical nerve root or spinal cord compression. They are not FDA approved or recommended to be used for the treatment of neck pain. The device can easily be inserted after the cervical nerve root and/or spinal cord have been decompressed. It is secured in place by screws that are placed into the vertebral body above and below the disc space. The surgeons at the Inland Neurosurgery Institute (INI) have been trained to perform cervical disc replacements. These replacements continue to have major long-term short-comings and hence are not commonly performed, and many insurance companies still do not pay for these surgeries.
The major problem with the design of these implants is that they are made out of metallic alloys which cause lots of MRI artifact. This artifact makes it difficult to assess adjacent level cervical disease in the future. Also, the most recent studies suggest that many of the disc replacements become fused over time and hence lose their intended mobility. This means that the patient undertakes a higher priced, higher risk procedure in order to maintain mobility for several years but to eventually lose the mobility at that level. With this in mind, the surgeons at INI feel that cervical disc replacements are not ideal for every patient. With improved design and materials in the future, such disc replacement technology will become more commonly used.