Currently, there are three different disc replacement systems approved by the FDA and available for use in replacing diseased discs. Most surgeons are trained using one type and then they stick with that particular system in order to perfect their technique. In this way, they can also improve patient results.
The rehabilitation program after neck surgery (whether a fusion procedure is done or the alternate, the disc replacement) is not standard. You will find differences from center to center and even from surgeon to surgeon at one surgical site. The decision about whether or not to wear a soft or hard collar after surgery lies with each individual surgeon.
There are several factors that go into making this decision. The condition of your bones and surrounding soft tissues, the amount of surgery required to accomplish the disc replacement, your age, and your activity level will be reviewed. Any complications that may have occurred during the procedure will also be considered.
Most patients leave the hospital after this surgery under their own steam. They get up and walk on the same day. The surgeon is really the one to make this decision knowing what was done and the condition of your neck. You can always bring your collars with you to your preoperative visit and bring up this question at that time. But the final decision may not be made until after the procedure has been done.