The procedure is performed to alleviate back pain due to lumbar degenerative disc disease and/or to remove pressure from the nerves from lumbar disc herniations.
The procedure is for patients who have mainly back pain or a combination of back pain and leg symptoms often referred to as “sciatica”.Spine Doctor Rolando Garcia, Jr.
Dr. Garcia may request a CT scan in addition to the MRI to check the bone quality and see if you are a good candidate for total disc replacement. Ideal candidates have little to no arthritis, good strong bone (no osteoporosis), and little to no facet disease (the joints in the back of the spine which are involved in motion).
The surgery is performed through the front of the spine (through the abdomen, usually just to the left of the belly button), therefore avoiding extensive muscle cutting and minimizing postoperative pain. It is done with the assistance of a cardiothoracic surgeon because the organs and vasculature need to be retracted to the side to allow appropriate exposure of the spine.
Once this is done, removal of the degenerative disc is then completed. The painful disc is then replaced by a new metal disc which maintains motion.
Hospitalization for 1-2 days is typically recommended for observation. No brace is required after surgery and patients usually get significant relief in their back symptoms as recovery progresses. You can typically return to light activities after 2 weeks and full, unrestricted activity after 2-3 months.