Lumbar discs are the shock absorbing discs between the vertebrae of the lumbar spine. In addition to functioning as a cushion for the spine, they also enable movement and flexibility. The lumbar spine is composed of five vertebrae in the lower back. Lumbar disc replacement is the surgical procedure in which a damaged lumbar disc is removed and replaced with an artificial device.
Are you suffering from back pain due to a damaged lumbar disc? Contact Los Angeles orthopedic surgeon Dr. Hyun Bae to find out if disc replacement surgery is the right solution for you.
Altogether, the backbone is made up of 33 vertebrae, and each vertebra is separated by a soft, spongy intervertebral disc. The lumbar spine is located toward the bottom part of the spine, beneath the thoracic and above the sacrum region. Lumbar disc disease is a common problem with this area of the spine. With lumbar disc disease, the discs between the vertebrae begin to lose fluid and dry out. This leads the disc to compress and may also allow for cracks and tears in the outer layer of the disc. When the cracks or tears appear, the center, or nucleus, of the disc may bulge or herniate out, pressing against a nerve root. The result is often pain, weakness, or numbness.
Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery
Lumbar disc replacement is a type of surgery that removes all or part of the damaged lumbar disc and replaces it with a prosthetic. This may be necessary in the lumbar spine when injury or degenerative disc disease has caused one of the lumbar discs to rupture and press on a nerve.
In general, there are two types of lumbar disc replacement surgeries: total disc replacement and disc nucleus replacement. Total disc replacement is a process in which the entire lumbar disc is removed. Once it has been removed it is replaced with a prosthetic device. These prosthetics are generally made from a combination of soft, plastic-like material and surgical grade steel. Once implanted between the vertebrae, they are able to eliminate pain by removing the pressure on the nerves and helping the patient regain mobility.
Disc nucleus replacement is a procedure in which the center, or nucleus, of the disc is removed. To do this, a small incision is made in the outer part of the disc and the center is removed. With the damaged nucleus gone, the surgeon then implants a prosthetic nucleus. These are typically made of injectable fluids, hydrogels, inflatables, or elastic coils.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is a good candidate for lumbar disc replacement?
A: Patients should first exhaust the non-surgical options. But if treatments such as rest, physical therapy, and pain medication have not been effective in treating back pain, surgery is then an option.
Q: Why should I have my lumbar disc replacement done at Le Peer Surgery Center?
A: There are a number of advantages to having your spinal surgery at La Peer. Because La Peer offers world-class doctors and facilities, you will be up and moving again in less than a day. Also, because La Peer is not an emergency center, like most hospitals, there is a drastically lower rate of infection.
Q: Is lumbar disc replacement safe? What are the side effects?
A: Lumbar disc replacement is generally a safe and effective procedure. However, as with any surgery there are a number potential risks and side effects. These include infection, dislocation of the artificial disc, failure or loosening of the artificial disc, narrowing of the spine, and stiffness or rigidity of the spine.
Q: What are the advantages of lumbar disc replacement over spinal fusion?
A: Spinal fusion is an older procedure that removes the damaged disc and fuses the vertebrae above and below together. The advantage of disc replacement is that the patient is able to maintain mobility between the vertebrae. Because of this, recovery from disc replacement is often faster and less painful.
Contact a Los Angeles Lumbar Disc Replacement Expert
Lower back pain can have a serious and negative impact on your life. But you don’t have to live with pain. Dr. Bae is a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon with expertise in Lumbar Disc Replacement. Contact him today at (888) 309-2848 to set up an appointment.
Next, read about spinal fusion vs. disc replacement.