A lumbar disk replacement is a type of back or spine surgery, performed commonly for degenerative disk disease. Disks between the vertebrae work like cushions to allow the vertebrae to rotate and move without the bones rubbing against each other.
The lumbar vertebrae and disks are at the bottom of your spine. Lumbar disk replacement involves replacing a worn or degenerated disk in the lower part of your spine with an artificial disk made of metal or a combination of metal and plastic.
Lumbar disk replacement is generally seen as an alternative to the more common spinal fusion surgery.
The main reason you would need a lumbar disk replacement is to treat low back pain.
In general, lumbar disk replacement surgery might be recommended if:
- Your back pain mostly comes from only 1 or 2 disks in your lower spine
- You have no significant joint disease or compression on the nerves of your spine
- You are not excessively overweight
- You haven’t previously had spinal surgery
- You don’t have scoliosis or another spinal deformity
An analysis of previous clinical trials found that total disc replacement (TDR) is “as good as or better than” spinal fusion for treating lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD). People who underwent TDR experienced greater improvements in their functioning and were more satisfied with the procedure. They were also less likely to require additional surgery within five years, compared to people who had spinal fusion. TDR may decrease degeneration in adjacent discs, which could reduce the need for additional surgery later on.