Total Disc Replacement vs. Spinal Fusion – Which is Better?

Category: Procedures, Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 18, 2014

spinal fusionIf you are considering spine surgery to relieve pain in your back, there are many things to take into account. Depending on the specifics of your condition, there are several surgical procedures that may or may not be beneficial. Two of the more popular minimally invasive spinal surgeries are the total disc replacement and the spinal fusion. These two procedures are similar, but not identical. Here, we will discuss both procedures, their similarities and their differences.

Total Disc Replacement

In a total disc replacement surgery, a painful spinal disc is completely removed from the spine and an artificial disc is put in its place. This procedure is usually done to relieve pain from a herniated or bulging disc while preserving motion through the disc. This is the primary difference between a total disc replacement and a spinal fusion. A TDR preserves motion, while a fusion reduces motion.

Read a personal account of a total disc replacement from one of our former patients.

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusions are done for many of the same reasons as total disc replacements, but also allow your surgeon to stabilize spinal instability, correct deformities, and address joint related pain.  Although the procedures can both reduce pain coming from a disc, the procedures are different. In a fusion, the bad spinal disc is removed (just like a disc replacement procedure), but instead of replacing it with an artificial disc, the surgeon places spacers and bone products and welds them to the spine. This is done to decrease motion and reduce pain in the area.

Which Procedure is Better?

There is really no black and white answer to which surgery is better. Both have their pros and cons. It really depends on your individual situation. Dr. Sinicropi and his team are experts in both procedures and would happy to help you sort out which option is best for you.

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