When conservative treatment for neck pain fails, one of the reasons may be disc disease that has led to a badly degenerated cervical disc. When this is the case, one of the available options is a complete replacement of the original disc with a replacement artificial disc. This is an innovative treatment that we can provide as a cervical spine specialist in New Jersey. The procedure can eliminate shoulder, neck and arm pain, and can sometimes provide better range of motion than is true of anterior cervical discectomy. This procedure was the inspiration and foundation for a truly groundbreaking surgery that was recently performed in China: a team of surgeons treating a woman with a rare form of cancer was able to remove six badly degenerated vertebrae and replace them with artificial vertebrae made using 3D-printing technology and using a material known as titanium.
The 28-year-old woman was diagnosed with a condition known as chondrosarcoma, a type of cancer that attacks the cartilage that is found between the body’s bones. Though chondrosarcoma’s tumors normally attack the areas of the thigh and pelvis, this woman’s cancer landed between her cervical vertebrae. She was left unable to move her arms, and the condition was likely to worsen. In response her surgeons spent weeks building artificial bones of titanium alloy using 3D-printing technology and X-rays of her spine to replicate the bones that would be replaced. They then performed a 13-hour surgery that provided her with the ability to stand and walk again. Though she is unable to turn her head normally, her condition is greatly improved and she is able to carry on a normal life.
The team that accomplished this task is not new to groundbreaking spinal surgery using 3D technology. They have previously created cervical vertebrae and thoracic vertebrae to do disc replacement surgery.
If you are experiencing neck, shoulder or arm pain, you may be a candidate for cervical disc replacement. The best way to determine whether this is the case is to make an appointment to come in and see our cervical spine specialist in New Jersey for a thorough examination. A cervical disc replacement has a similar recovery time to that of other surgeries that we perform. We use only a small incision, then gently move aside the various structures within the neck in order to reach the area where the degenerated or damaged disc is located, remove it, and replace it with an artificial disc. Following this, the incision is closed up and the patient is generally able to go home either the day of surgery or the day after. Patients report almost instantaneous relief, and are able to return to most normal activities in