Artificial disc replacement

Removing a damaged disc and replace it with an artificial one.

Left part of K
Find out more about cervical and lumbar artificial disc replacement.

Artificial disc replacement key points

  • Artificial disc replacement involves removing a damaged or worn out spinal disc and replacing it with a man-made artificial disc.
  • Spine surgeons can replace spinal discs in your neck (cervical) and back (lumbar) with artificial ones.
  • Modern technology and engineering have made this a safe, effective operation and tens of thousands of patients around the world have had this type of surgery.

Artificial disc replacement Brisbane

The spine surgeon said artificial disc replacement. What exactly is that?

This involves completely removing the damaged or worn out disc in your spine and replacing it with an artificial one made of titanium and medical grade plastics. These artificial discs are wedged between your spinal bones by the spine surgeon. The new disc then moves and behaves like a normal spinal disc. 

A lot of high-tech engineering from around the world goes into making these artificial spinal discs. Modern designs are very good.

At this stage, stem cell technology to regrow natural discs without the need for an artificial one or a spinal fusion is many years off, despite the media hype.

Artificial spinal disc replacement surgery Brisbane

Is it successful?

There are many tens of thousands of patients around the world who have had artificial spinal disc replacement surgery and are very happy with the results. 

The technology is now very good, and the surgical procedure for implanting them is routine for many surgeons.

However, the biggest factor determining success for artificial disc surgery is the decision making process. There are many things to weigh up when deciding whether to use an artificial disc or not. This decision making process is key and I will spend time weighing up all the factors, including your age, your scan results, your symptoms, the quality of life you want to live and the level of activity you want to maintain. 

Dr Alex Koefman | Brain and Spinal Surgeon Brisbane
Dr Alex Koefman

Spinal surgeon Brisbane


There is a famous quote in surgery: “Success is 20% physical skill and 80% decision making skill.” It is very true. 

Artificial disc replacement surgery risks

Is it safe?

Yes, in experienced hands it is safe.

Modern technology and computer-guided systems have made this a safe and effective operation in the 21st century. Engineers from around the world continue to push the limits of this technology to help further improve this operation for your benefit.

With all this in mind, the main risks related to artificial disc replacement surgery are:

  • The operation may not work; you may continue to have the symptoms despite the surgery. This is now quite rare.
  • The artificial disc may break, move, or fail. Modern engineering has made this very rare.
  • Bleeding; this rarely causes a problem.
  • Infection; this is rare in modern surgical practice:
    • Antibiotics. When these were invented in the 1940s, surgery was utterly transformed.
    • Proper skin care during and after surgery. Healthy skin is a vital barrier to infection: ‘If you look after the skin, the skin will look after you!’
    • Shorter surgery. While there is no cut-off point, it is well recognised that the more efficient the surgery, and the less time is taken, the lower the risk.
  • General risk of the anaesthetic like clots in the legs, clots in the lungs, urinary tract infections, skin injuries from being on a bed for a long time, and heart or kidney problems. Modern anaesthetic medicine makes many of these risks very low.

I am committed to getting the best possible result for you and minimising the risks, which I will explain to you in detail. This also includes keeping regular contact with you during the recovery phase.

Alternatives to disc replacement surgery

What if I don't have surgery?

This depends on what you are having the surgery for. I will discuss the option of no surgery with you. 

Are there any other good options?

There certainly are. I will go through these with you when I see you and assess your condition, scans and lifestyle. 

Artificial disc replacement recovery time

What can and can't I do afterwards?

Recovery is fairly quick. It is very common however to stay 1 or 2 nights in hospital. 

To get the best result you need to commit to a full recovery period. Recovery is like compound interest; if you do the time, you’ll get the best result. If you shortchange yourself and bail out early you will miss out on significant benefits long term. 

Dr Alex Koefman | Brain and Spinal Surgeon Brisbane
Dr Alex Koefman

Spinal surgeon Brisbane

But this does not mean you will be just resting during the recovery. I will encourage you to be as active as possible. It is very important to get your confidence back as soon as possible, and you will be surprised how much you are allowed to do straight after surgery. 

I will take you through all this specific to your case when I see you.

Spinal surgeon Brisbane

What else do I need to know?

If you would like me to assess you and your condition please contact my team to book an appointment.

Ready to make an appointment?

Alex consults at Queensland Neurosurgery & Spine Surgery (QNS).
Dr Alex Koefman

Ramsay Specialist Centre
Suite 325
Newdegate St
Greenslopes QLD 4120


(07) 3397 4185

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