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Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR)

If spinal injuries are keeping you from accomplishing daily tasks, but you don’t want to risk limiting your mobility through a spinal fusion, artificial disc replacement surgery may be an option. At Providence, we work with you to reduce the pain caused by spinal conditions, such as spinal fracture, spinal disc disease or spinal stenosis.

Artificial disc replacement surgery, also known as ADR, total disc replacement or total disc arthroplasty, uses advanced surgical techniques to remove damaged intervertebral discs within the lumbar or cervical spine and replaces them with a state-of-the-art prosthesis.

The human spine is made up of 24 vertebrae separated by intervertebral discs that work as cushions or shock absorbers for our backs. Abnormalities such as disc degeneration, bone spurs, fractured vertebrae, scoliosis and other spinal deformities can often lead to pinched nerves and abnormal motions that cause back and or leg pain.

The aim of total disc replacement is to recreate normal dynamic function of the spine and eliminate back pain. By implanting an entirely new prosthetic disc in place of a degenerated one, ADR restores the spine’s ability to move dynamically without compromising mobility, unlike spinal fusion, whose purpose is to limit movement by removing spinal discs entirely and locking vertebrae together.

The artificial discs used in ADR are primarily made of cobalt-chrome alloy, and molecular weight polyethylene strengthened by a plasma sprayed titanium coating. They are designed to resist corrosion, duplicate disc function, and work compatibly with the body.

During the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in your abdomen to access the spine. Once between the correct vertebral bodies, the diseased disc, as well as any bone spurs, damaged bone and residual diseased disc tissue are removed.

The surgeon then separates the affected vertebral bodies to relieve nerve pressure and provide enough space for the artificial disc. Using a special bone drill, the bone of the vertebral body is smoothed out to prepare for placement of the artificial disc.

Once the artificial disc is placed between the vertebral bodies, the spine is returned to normal posture, effectively and safely securing the new disc.

Patients often stay as little as one night after surgery, depending on their condition. Your team of physical and occupational therapists will work with you to ensure the recovery process is as comfortable as possible. Our nurses will help you stand and walk during your first few days of recovery and monitor your progress.

As with any surgery, some risks and complications may arise when undergoing ADR. These include infection, blood clots in the spine, possible nerve damage, and dislocation of the artificial disc.

When you partner with Providence for your surgery, you can rest easy knowing your team of orthopedic and neurological surgeons have the skill and experience to reduce your risk of complication during surgery.