Artificial disc replacement involves removing a degenerated or herniated disc and replacing it with prosthetic components, as is done in a hip or knee replacement. The goal of surgery is usually to relieve pressure on pinched nerves or the spinal cord while allowing the spinal segment to keep some flexibility and maintain more normal motion.
During surgery, the problematic disc is removed and the nerves and spinal cord freed of any pressure. Then an artificial disc implant is inserted into the disc space. It is designed to maintain motion between the vertebral segments after the diseased disc has been removed. It may also help restore the height between the vertebrae and widen the passageway for nerve roots to exit the spinal canal.