Because this new fused segment does not retain the natural bending and turning motion of the original spine, additional stress is exerted on the vertebral segments above and below the fusion. This can lead to a condition called adjacent segment disease.
Adjacent segment disease can be very problematic as the stress from everyday activities places increased stress on the nearby discs, leading to degeneration and damage of the once healthy surround discs. Ultimately this can lead to the need for additional fusions, creating a larger locked vertebral segment and perpetuating a domino effect of stress on the healthy remaining discs.
Artificial Disc Replacement Reduces the Likelihood of Adjacent Segment Disease
Artificial Disc replacement surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which the problematic disc is replaced by an artificial disc.
Unlike a fusion in which the vertebrae are locked into place with a bone graft and plate, an artificial disc is designed and engineered to mimic the natural rotation and side-to-side bending and turning of the natural spine. The major advantage of the motion preservation is that it decreases the stress placed on the discs above and below the treated level, reducing the likelihood of adjacent segment disease.