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"I need spine surgery, but fusion scares me. Are there other options?"

The increased use of artificial disk replacement as an alternative to fusion surgery makes this an exciting time in the treatment of spinal disease.

Lumbar and cervical fusion surgeries have been the gold standard for relieving spine pain. "But now, artificial disk replacement has emerged as another treatment option for spinal disk disease, especially in younger patients," said Dr. David Propst, a spine surgeon at Orthopedic Associates of SW Ohio.

Dr. Propst explains, "Artificial disk replacement – used in Europe for almost two decades with success – has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for about 10 years for both lumbar and cervical spine." The procedure allows patients to maintain motion and return to activities of daily living sooner than fusion, and to recover faster in general.

In addition, the disk replacement surgery takes about 90 minutes to perform, can be done from the front, which may reduce blood loss and eliminates cutting through muscle to get to the bone.

However, some patients aren’t good candidates for a disk replacement: those with multilevel problems in their neck or back, arthritis or spinal stenosis, scoliosis or spondylolisthesis. "In the appropriate population, artificial disk replacement may be a good alternative to fusion," Dr. Propst said.

The important thing to remember is if you have back pain and it has not responded to initial treatments, it might be time to be evaluated by a spine surgeon.

You can schedule an appointment in our Greenville office to discuss if artificial disk replacement is an option for you.

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