Intervertebral disc prosthesis
cervical spine

Almost 150 implantations performed annually

It sometimes happens that the clinical picture suggests the use of an intervertebral disc prosthesis in order to help the patient regain complete freedom from symptoms.
dr With around 150 implantations per year, Helmbrecht is one of the most experienced spine surgeons.

Thanks to progress in implant development, modern intervertebral disc prostheses are now optimally tailored to the special anatomical and functional conditions of the cervical spine and therefore allow natural movement sequences, which means that the cervical spine remains completely mobile. They also have dampening properties similar to those found in healthy intervertebral discs. This ensures that the adjacent vertebral sections are not overloaded.

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How does the treatment work?

The intervertebral disc prosthesis is implanted through a small incision in the neck. After removing the herniated disc, the prosthetic disc is placed between the vertebrae (intervertebral). The replacement intervertebral disc is anchored using two titanium plates, which means that the bone can optimally grow onto the prosthesis and there is no risk of loosening. A polyethylene core lies between the two plates, and a polyurethane coating seals the prosthesis from the outside.

Only in rare cases does it happen that a prosthesis cannot be used. E.g. osteoporosis, tumour, changes in the spinal cord (myelopathy) that can be demonstrated by MRI or in the case of already too advanced degeneration of the intervertebral disc and the vertebral joints. In these cases, a fusion occurs after the extensive decompression (relief). Here we use a cage (placeholder), usually made of PEEK material (polyetheretherketone is a highly heat-resistant plastic that is very well tolerated by the body).


The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. You can walk on your own two hours after the operation and go home on the second day after the operation.

Intervertebral disc prosthesis cervical spine (view from the side/front)


What aftercare is required?

It is necessary to wear a neck brace for about six weeks, after which it is advisable to start physiotherapy tailored to your individual needs under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

When can you do sports again?

You should be able to swim or cycle regularly again about six weeks after the procedure. You can gradually resume your usual sporting training around nine to twelve weeks after the procedure.

When are you able to work again?

After two weeks you can resume office work and light physical work. You should avoid heavy physical activity for the first eight weeks and then slowly increase it.

What is the success rate?

In the international literature, success rates of over 90 percent are given.

At a glance!

The most important facts and data are summarized and compared for you at a glance
  stiffening operation intervertebral disc prosthesis
  • After the operation, the vertebrae are stiffened, the natural mobility of the cervical spine is lost, which can lead to overloading of the adjacent joints
  • For stiffening, either a bone graft must be used (pain at the donor site on the iliac crest) or a metal implant is used (foreign body). A metal fixation system is usually also required
  • The fixation screws used pose a risk of nerve root injury with the possibility of temporary or permanent neurological disorders
  • The movement segment that was disrupted in its function before the operation is largely able to move normally again
  • Injury of nerve roots is observed extremely rarely
  • A fixation (stiffening) of the movement segment is not necessary
  • Complaints often remain after the operation or new ones arise as a result of the operation
  • On the cervical spine, the operation is usually performed from the neck (back), which very often leads to permanent problems in the neck muscles
  • The original neck pain usually disappeared immediately after the operation, and slight residual muscular discomfort subsided quickly
  • The operation is performed through a small skin incision (approx. 3-5 cm) from the front of the cervical spine
After the procedure
  • No back strain for up to 6 weeks after the procedure
  • Already 3 hours after the procedure, the patient can put some weight on the neck again with a previously adjusted neck brace
hospital stay
  • 1-2 weeks
  • 3-6 days
  • Generous and extensive removal of bone substance
  • Often the vertebrae are fixed with metal, carbon or PEEK placeholders and a metal plate
  • Only the painful disc is removed
  • Access is via an approx. 3-5 cm long skin incision from the front of the cervical spine
  • Fixing with cages and metal plates is not necessary
  • The mobility and stability of the spine is preserved
  • Sport is practically no longer possible
  • After the rehabilitation period, usual sports activities can be carried out again
  • Long waiting times are not uncommon
  • In acute situations, we endeavor to perform an operation within a week


!!! The mobility and natural functionality of the cervical spine is retained !!!

The advantages at a glance:

  • Modern intervertebral disc prostheses ensure natural mobility and unrestricted functionality of the damaged cervical spine
  • No longer hospital stay is necessary
  • A feared connection degeneration can usually be avoided
  • Independent movement and walking possible immediately after the operation
  • You can go home about three days after the operation
  • As little as two weeks after the operation, you can largely resume your usual activities
  • A high success rate


Dr. Helmbrecht in an interview on the topic "The intervertebral disc prosthesis in the area of the cervical spine for neck pain, a sensible alternative?"