The new kid on the block for back surgery is the artificial disc. Many physicians currently use disc replacement surgery in an attempt to cure spinal problems. Most commonly, disc replacements are used in the lumbar and cervical spine.
The use of disc replacement surgery in the cervical spine is rather new but lumbar surgeries are quite common. Normally, disc replacements are used in an appropriate case instead of a spinal fusion which has long been the “gold standard” for severe back difficulties.
Artificial disc designs are often in two types. The first type is the replacement of the inner soft core of the disc which, for analogy purposes, would be like inserting a new tube in a bicycle tire. In this case, the Doctor removes the original material and replaces it with an implant. The outer covering of the disc called the annulus fibrosus is not removed.
The second type of artificial discs are made of metal, plastic or a combination of both. The concept behind this particular device is that of installing a flexible mechanism that duplicates the function of the original disk and maintains flexibility. The ends usually attach to the bony vertebrae above and below the disc replacement, very similar to a door hinge.
Disc replacements are not for everybody and a lot of factors can go into determination whether a disc replacement should be used or even if surgery should occur at all. Some of the conditions that can contraindicate the use of disc replacements are spondylolisthesis, osteoporosis, severe degenerative disc disease, arthritic spurring, collateral medical issues such as cardiac complications, diabetes and a host of other problems that are best discussed in consultation with your doctor.
When we represent claimants whose disabilities include a component of back or neck difficulties, we feel it is necessary to develop a medical explanation for the Adjudicator or the Administrative Law Judge to illustrate exactly why the surgeries performed did not fix the problem. We make every attempt to understand the exact surgical procedures involved which puts the staff at Drummond Disability in a unique position to assist our clients.