Dysphagia and Artificial Disc Replacement

One of the most undesirable side effects after an anterior cervical spine surgery is dysphagia. Dysphagia occurs when a patient has difficulty swallowing. Doctors often disagree on whether it is a symptom or a condition in itself. Derived from the Greek work dys, meaning bad, and phago, meaning ‘eat,’ patients suffering with dysphagia may have symptoms including:
Difficulty getting foods and/or liquids through the esophagus
Gagging, choking, or coughing when swallowing
Foods come up the throat, mouth, or nose after swallowing
Feeling like food or liquid is stuck in the throat or chest
Pain when swallowing
Heartburn
Weight loss
A common symptom associated with artificial disc replacement surgery and ACDF fusion surgery is dysphagia. Because of the ongoing debate between the efficacies of these two surgeries, ONE Brain and Spine Center continues to report on any findings. Dr. Burak Ozgur is specially trained in spine surgeries and believe it is important to continuously research reports and studies that identify problems and solutions.
In a study conducted by Medscape, researchers evaluated surgical technique, number of treated levels, and type of implant to determine if any of them were significant for reports of dysphagia after surgery. For the study, 136 patients were chosen “from a randomized controlled trial between artificial disc replacement and ACDF in 1 or 2 surgical levels” and evaluated regarding dysphagia. For individuals who had artificial disc replacements, they underwent reconstruction using the Discover artificial disc. The individuals who had a previous ACDF surgery received a bone graft and anterior plating. Both the patients and the surgeons were unaware of the instrumentation and type of surgery done until the time of implantation.
The results were evaluated at 4 weeks (preoperatively), 3 months (preoperatively), 1 year (postoperatively), and 2 years (postoperatively). The results are as follows:
–At 4 weeks follow-up postoperatively:
Dysphagia was higher in both groups
–No significant differences until 2-year follow-up:
Higher dysphagia levels in ACDF group
The differences was significant- Artificial disc replacement: P=0.029 and P= 0.032
–Stronger association to type of implant over number of surgical levels
–Surgery time was significantly associated with number of surgery levels, but not significant in types of implants
The researchers concluded, “long-term postoperative dysphagia could be explained by bulk of implant or decreased motion in the cervical spine.” In addition, the researchers doubt that there are clinical differences in the two groups, those who received an artificial disc replacement and those who received an ACDF surgery. To find out more about the study and what the researchers found throughout the two years, click http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/814389_1.
If you or someone you love needs treatment for a back or neck condition, consult with a ONE Brain and Spine Center representative, today. We are located in Irvine, and continue to serve those residents as well as surrounding communities in California.
ONE Brain & Spine Center is the premier spine and brain center in Irvine, California, offering minimally invasive spine surgeries and minimally invasive orthopedic surgeries. For more information or to make an appointment, please call (949) 383-4190.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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