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:
- 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
- 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'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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