Multi-level artificial disc replacement in Spain, Europe is available for patients suffering from multi–level disc herniation or degeneration. As FDA has not yet approved this in the United States, some patients have begun travelling to Europe in order to avail of this surgery and alleviate the constant and disturbing pain they feel in the their backs.
Disc Replacement Surgery – Features
- Disc replacement surgery is typically recommended to individuals who are suffering from chronic back pain.
- However, before any surgery is recommended, the doctors will usually advise a patient to undergo other conservative treatments like chiropractic and physical therapy, taking medication, and other alternative means to alleviate pain in the back.
- These alternative treatments usually take about six months at least before the doctors can recommend surgery.
- The diagnosis that leads to this surgery is usually a damaged or herniated disc, requiring replacement in order to be able to return its cushion-like benefits to the vertebrae.
- An MRI image and other tests are what doctors will need to see in order to correctly identify the disease and make recommendations.
- Cervical disc replacement is when the disc needed to be replaced is located in the neck region of the spine. Lumbar disc replacement is when the disc needed to be replaced is in the lower back.
- Multi-level disc replacement is a relatively new procedure, and some countries have not yet performed this surgery, mostly due to requirements of more information about it, or the lack of expert neurosurgeons or orthopedic surgeons who are qualified to perform it.
Multi-Level Disc Replacement Surgery in Spain
As some European countries are more advanced and forward in the approval of surgeries, multi-level disc replacement is already available in Spain. Expert neurosurgeons are also treating more and more North American patients who are going to Europe for multi-level disc surgery. Below are some of the advantages of going to Spain for surgery:
- The spine center in Barcelona is equipped with the latest facilities and tools in order to accurately perform surgeries on the very delicate spinal column.
- The neurosurgeons are excellent, with impeccable credentials for training and experience in spine surgery.
- The members of the medical staff speak excellent English, and are very used to serving international patients visiting their country.
- The cost is only a fraction of what a patient might spend in North America, without sacrificing the quality of the surgery done.
- Most artificial disc replacement surgeries are done in the lumbar spine area, with most of those surgeries only single-level surgeries.
- A lower percentage of disc replacement is done in the cervical area or neck, and a small percentage of that are multi-level.
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The Artificial Disc
- The normal function of a disc is to serve as a shock absorber – as in motor vehicles – in order to absorb the pressure in between the vertebrae especially during normal, everyday movements like bending the torso or neck front to back, or side to side.
- The artificial disc is implanted by attaching two plates above and below the space vacated by the natural disc removed.
- Artificial discs are typically made using plastic-like materials and metal.
- The US Food and Drug Administration has only approved the use of 3 types of artificial discs, while in Europe there is a much wider variety to choose from.
Types of Artificial Disc Surgery offered in Spain
- After deciding to go for spine surgery in Spain, patients usually decide between having spine fusion or disc replacement surgery.
- These two surgeries are both known to alleviate pain, albeit in different ways.
- Spine fusion, as the name suggests, fuses two vertebrae so that movement is limited, and so pain is eliminated or considerably lessened. Artificial disc surgery just replaces the original disc with a similar structure, so that movement is still very much possible and a patient can return to normal activities for a short time after the operation.
- The recovery period is also lessened in disc replacement surgery, and other spine centers – like the one in Barcelona – actually offer minimally-invasive spine surgery to their patients.
Pre Disc Replacement Surgery
- Some conditions that may cause a patient to be disqualified from surgery are obesity (especially for lumbar disc problems), scoliosis, and osteoporosis among others.
- The doctor will of course have to determine a patient’s suitability to this operation based on tests like X-rays, MRI or MRT.
- Some medications a patient is taking may need to be stopped a few weeks before the scheduled surgery, so tell your doctor about any medication you are taking.
- Alcohol and nicotine use, are of course discouraged especially a few weeks before the surgery.
- Patients may also be prescribed a pre-operative diet.
Risks of Disc Replacement Surgery
As with other procedures requiring general anesthesia, disc replacement surgery does entail a number of risks. Some of these are below.
- Nerve injuries while manipulating structures in the spinal column
- Slippage or breakage of replacement disc (although some past studies have shown that causes of the disc slipping and breaking are easily corrected)
- Allergic reactions of the body to the foreign material implanted inside it.
- Although most patients say they are experiencing less pain intensity and frequency after surgery, there are also a small number who say that there is no difference.
Post Disc Replacement Surgery
- After the operation, a patient typically stays in the hospital for 2-5 days, depending on doctor’s orders.
- Movement of the neck or spine is possible even the next day, but patients are advised not to move the part too much or too vigorously to allow time for healing.
- The usage of minimally-invasive types of surgery has significantly lessened recovery time even more.
- Some support like a neck ring or body support corsage may be recommended by the surgeon to be used for a few weeks after the surgery.
- About 6-8 weeks after surgery, most patients return to normal activities.
- The timeline mentioned above, will of course vary on a case to case basis, depending on a patient’s specific condition.
Multi-level artificial disc replacement surgery in Spain, Europe can be made into a non-stressful experience for a patient when proper preparation is in place. The confidence and trust of the patient in the doctor is very essential, so make sure that you are comfortably well-versed about his qualifications and experience. Put yourself in good hands always, from choosing the right medical tourism agency to the surgical hospital and medical team that will be handling this procedure that can change your life forever.