Cervical Disc Replacement

What is a Cervical Disc Replacement?

A cervical disc replacement is an operation to replace one or two levels of the cervical spine. The operation is usually done to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves or spinal cord from a herniated disc.


A small incision is made in the front of the neck, and muscles are spread to avoid trauma. The esophagus and trachea need to be moved to access the front of the spine in the neck. The intervertebral disc(s) is/are removed entirely, and all pressure on the nerves is relieved.

Dr. Bjerke does this procedure in a minimally-invasive fashion. The entire procedure lasts about one hour. A small incision is made in a natural crease in the neck to minimize scar. All muscles are spread and not cut whenever possible. All sutures are placed underneath the skin (similar to a plastic surgery procedure) to minimize scarring.

Most patients will be able to leave the hospital the same day as surgery. Nearly all other patients will be able to leave the hospital the next day.

For many patients who have been offered a cervical fusion or "ACDF," a cervical disc replacement may be a preferred motion-preserving operation. For a variety of reasons, not all patients will be a good candidate for a disc replacement. It is important to have an informed discussion with your surgeon about which operation is right for you. Not all surgeons perform both procedures, and may therefore only recommend a fusion or even recommend against a cervical disc replacement only because they are not trained in motion-preserving techniques. 

Case Example

On the right: an MRI showing a 31 year-old patient with a bulging disc and compression on the spinal nerves. He experienced severe shoulder pain.

On the far right: an xray shows the patient after an outpatient cervical disc replacement. The patient's pain was relieved completely.