While Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) is an effective and reliable surgery to treat conditions of the cervical spine, there is some concern over the reduced flexibility of the neck joints after surgery. This may result in earlier degeneration of the joints in the spine next to the fused level.
Cervical Disc Replacement (Arthroplasty) may be suitable for some patients instead. An “artificial disc” is used in the reconstruction of the cervical spine. The “artificial disc” is usually made of metal, ceramic and/or plastic. It acts as a spacer while allowing the joints of the spine to continue to move after surgery.
Current studies show that the results of the Cervical Disc Replacement with an “artificial disc” are equivalent to those of ACDF. It has not been proven to reduce degeneration of the joints in the spine next to the operated level. The actual longevity of such implants is currently unknown though most of the established models have at least 3 to 10 years of follow-up history.