The Lowdown on Low Back Pain
(and Other Aches)


What is a disc replacement?

A disc replacement is an operation where the soft lumbar disc, which is present between every pair of vertebral bones, is removed completely. It can then be replaced with a piece of bone or with a new titanium and plastic device called an artificial disc. Both operations are done using almost identical techniques. They are done from the front. The major muscles of the back are not disturbed. They can be completed in one to two hours. The replacement with bone is older and has a higher success rate. The newer mechanical disc is much more complicated, has a higher rate of failure, and still has "bugs" that need to be worked out. It is not suitable for all patients. The mechanical disc, however, is less painful and the recovery is a bit shorter.



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Last modified: 07/27/08