Lumbar Total Disc Replacement (TDR)
Description of Lumbar Disc Replacement
As spinal discs degenerate, they may become painful, thus limiting function and decreasing quality of life for individuals. Total disc replacement (TDR, also called artificial disc) surgery is one of the latest advancements in spine surgery. This surgery is recommended only after extensive non-surgical therapies have failed to significantly provide pain relief.
Conditions Treated with Lumbar Disc Replacement
TDR is most commonly performed for the treatment of painful disc degeneration or disruption.
What to Expect Before Lumbar Disc Replacement
Once you have decided to have surgery, the following events take place:
- A medical examination.
- Chest X-ray, EKG and blood work.
- You may be asked to have a neurological or psychological examination.
- If taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications daily, stop these medications at least one week before surgery.
- If you take prescription medications or other drugs, including herbals, ask your doctor how soon before surgery you should stop taking these.
- Do not have anything to eat or drink for 6 to 8 hours before surgery.
- You will check into the hospital the morning of surgery.
- Prior to surgery, you will be asked to sign permits for surgery, anesthesia, blood and blood products.
What to Expect During Lumbar Disc Replacement
- An incision is made by a general surgeon in the abdomen to expose the front part of the spine.
- Fluoroscopy (live X-ray) is used to determine the correct level(s) to be operated.
- The disc is approached after carefully separating away the abdominal contents and major blood vessels are moved off to the side.
- The disc is removed.
- A disc replacement device is implanted.
- Normal compression of the spine will hold the implant in place.
- Surgery takes approximately 1-3 hours.
What to Expect After Lumbar Disc Replacement
- You will be in the recovery room from 1 to 1½ hours.
- The surgeon will contact your family while you are in recovery.
- After going to a hospital room, you will be able to use a PCA pump to get medication for pain control. This machine controls the amount of medication that can be received.
- Staff will usually get you out of bed shortly after surgery.
- The hospital stay is usually 1-2 days.
- A brace or corset may be prescribed for several weeks to prevent excessive bending.
- You will be given any needed prescriptions and discharge instructions.
- A set of exercises that you can do at home will be provided.
- You will be able to ride in a car or plane upon leaving the hospital.
- Physical therapy is usually initiated after the first office visit with your doctor following surgery.
Recovery from lumbar disc replacement varies greatly among patients and is dependent on the extent of the surgery as well as the age and health of the individual. Return to work also varies greatly among patients and is related to overall health and the type of work you do.