Artificial Disc Replacement vs. Spinal Fusion

 Artificial Disc Replacement vs. Spinal Fusion

About 6 million Americans suffer from chronic back pain, including pain caused by spine joint and disc problems. While some chronic back pain improves with conservative options, like physical therapy and medication, other back problems require surgery.

At his practice in Roseville, Minnesota, David Chang, MD-PhD, DABNS, offers both artificial disc replacement surgery and spinal fusion surgery to relieve your back pain symptoms, so you can get back to the activities you love. 

Here’s what these surgeries involve and what types of problems they can treat.

Artificial disc replacement

Your discs are spongy cushions that separate each pair of spine bones (vertebrae). Discs act like shock absorbers to protect your vertebrae, and they also help your spine stay flexible. The separation created by the discs also provides room for nerves to exit your spinal canal.

We perform artificial disc replacement when one or more of these discs becomes damaged and conservative options don’t provide relief for pain and other symptoms. 

Dr. Chang may recommend artificial disc replacement if you have diseased or damaged discs or degenerative disc disease.

Artificial disc replacement can be performed using a minimally invasive approach with a very small incision or using a more traditional, open approach with a larger incision, depending on your needs.

Dr. Chang uses special instruments to carefully remove the damaged disc, then he inserts an artificial disc made of durable, biocompatible materials. Many of our patients are able to go home the same day they have surgery, but in some cases, Dr. Chang may recommend an overnight hospital stay.

Artificial (or prosthetic) spine joints are designed to function like a natural spine joint. After surgery, you can enjoy flexibility and movement in the area where you had surgery. 

Spinal fusion

Spinal fusion surgery has been around for a long time, partly because it’s so versatile. It can be used for a variety of spine problems that cause chronic back pain, including:

Dr. Chang performs spinal fusion surgery using minimally invasive techniques for faster and more comfortable healing.

Just as the name implies, spinal fusion surgery fuses or joins two or more vertebrae to immobilize that area of your spine. After surgery, that part of your spine won’t be flexible any more. 

Depending on the condition he’s treating, Dr. Chang may perform a fusion surgery in one area of your spine or in multiple areas.

During the surgery, he makes an incision in your back so he can access the damaged part of your spine. He removes damaged tissue and inserts a bone graft or special hardware to immobilize the spine joint. 

Afterward, you spend a few days in the hospital to allow healing to begin. You need a few weeks off from work and should restrict your activities during recovery. Physical therapy helps you restore your back strength and mobility while you heal.

Choosing a treatment

With a skilled spine neurosurgeon like Dr. Chang, you can feel confident that the approach he recommends is the best option for your needs — now and in the future. 

Not only is he experienced in different types of spine surgery, but he’s also skilled in using advanced surgical techniques and state-of-the-art technology, making him an ideal choice for even complex spine-related problems.

We customize your treatment plan from the very beginning, based on your medical history, your lifestyle, and other factors. It all starts with an evaluation. To schedule yours, call or request an appointment online today.

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