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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    I have cervical radiculopathy. Is artificial disc replacement better outcome then a fusion?

    I have been diagnosed with cervical radicularpathy and my surgeon wants to go ahead with a acdf but I'm still young and have heard that a artificial disc-replacement would have a better outcome for me.
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  • 2


    Mr Reece Sher


    Mr. Reece Sher is an Australian-trained Neurosurgeon and Spinal Surgeon. Mr. Sher has trained with over 30 Australian and international fellowship-trained neurosurgeons and over half … View Profile

    I am sorry to hear of your suffering.

    The question you have asked is a really good and important one. This is increasing evidence to suggest that once conservative therapy has been exhausted, a cervical disc replacement may be a good alternative to a cervical fusion. Other options can include cervical decompression alone such as laminectomy or foraminotomy.

    There are a lot of factors your surgeon will consider when advising on the best option for you. These include but are not limited to:

    Patient factors

    • The pattern of clinical symptoms eg severe neck pain vs arm pain alone, unilateral vs bilateral symptoms, cord compression and myelopathy vs radiculopathy alone
    • Bone quality (osteoporosis)
    • Patient's lifestyle (eg smoking status)
    • Existing comorbidities
    • Patient's preference


    Radiological factors

    • The extent of degenerative change present in the spine (spondylosis), which may suggest that there is limited or no movement at the particular spinal level of concern. Introducing movement to a non-mobile segment has the potential to exacerbate neck pain
    • Factors that are generally included in the assessment of this include: ankylosis (stiffness of the spine), osteophyte formation, modic changes (bone oedema), facet joint disease and more
    • Presence of instability


    Surgeon factors

    • Surgeon's training, experience with the various techniques and bias towards a certain procedure having better outcomes


    There is still more to consider however you get the idea. It is not a simple decision. Nonetheless, it is important that you speak up and discuss the options. It is also within your rights to seek a second or even third opinion until you are satisfied. 

    I hope this helps.

    Please note, the information provided here is for general reference only. You should always consult your doctor and surgeon about the best option in your particular situation.   

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