First, disc replacements in the neck are much easier for surgeons to accomplish than those in the low back. In fact, disc replacements for the lumbar spine are ďdangerousĒ, according to Dr. Jack Stern, a neurosurgeon from White Plains, New York. Dr. Stern says the surgeon must go in through the front in both procedures, which means some body structures have to be moved out of the way. This is to access the spine. In the neck, all that needs to be moved is the esophagus and the trachea. But in the low back, he says, there are many more organs that will be displaced in order to insert the artificial device in the spine. Unlike in the neck, there are arteries and veins (the iliac artery and vein) that need to be moved in lumbar disc replacement surgery. If the surgeon happens to poke a hole in either of them during the procedure, the risk of bleeding to death is there. And if you need a revision surgery after a disc replacement, itís quite possible that your surgeon will not be willing to perform it. This is because the first surgery probably created scar tissue on the artery or vein. The scar tissue has to be cut as part of the second procedure. Revision surgery in the low back is just too risky, Stern told About.com.
Dr. Stern calls the lumbar disc replacement "hype". He says, "the best surgical hands notwithstanding, you canít justify even one death relating to back pain." About the cervical disc replacement, he says that after three months, it yields about the same results as a spinal fusion.