Navigation Links
Artificial disc replacement as good or better than spinal fusion surgery

AUDIO: Spine surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis are reporting that artificial discs seem to be a viable alternative to traditional fusion surgery for...

Click here for more information.

Spine surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and other U.S. centers are reporting that artificial disc replacement works as well and often better than spinal fusion surgery.

The two procedures are performed on patients with damaged discs in the neck.

Researchers found patients who received an artificial disc lost less motion in the neck and recovered faster than those who had a disc removed and the bones of the spine fused.

"Those who received the artificial disc either did equally as well or a little bit better than those who had fusion surgery," says K. Daniel Riew, M.D., a cervical spine surgeon at Washington University Orthopedics and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "One of the most important findings was that people who got the artificial disc were able to preserve all of their motion."

A disc in the spine is similar to a jelly donut, with a squishy center surrounded by a tough outer portion. It functions like a shock absorber between the vertebrae. When a disc ruptures, or becomes herniated, the squishy disc tissue can spread into the spinal canal and press against nerves, causing numbness, weakness or pain.

For years, the surgery to treat cervical disc disease relieved pressure by removing the offending disc and then fusing the bones of the spine together. Surgery to implant an artificial disc also removes the damaged disc, but instead of using metal rods, screws and bone grafts to fuse bones together, the surgeon replaces the disc with an implant.

Patients in the study were randomly assigned to receive either the BRYAN Cervical Disc or standard fusion surgery. Ultimately, 242 received the artificial disc, and 221 had spinal fusion. Improvement following surgery was measured with a tool called the neck disability index (NDI). Two years post surgery, patients in both groups had improved NDI scores. Both had less neck and arm pain and were less likely to experience numbness. Overall, the surgery was rated as successful in 83 percent of the patients who received artificial discs and 73 percent of those who had fusion surgery (230 vs. 194). Part of that difference, Riew says, can be explained by better motion in the neck for those who had artificial discs implanted.

He says the neck is always slightly restricted following spinal fusion surgery. Since bones in the neck have been fused together, it is impossible to regain full range of motion. But the defect is subtle.

"Fusion adds a small amount of stress in the spine above and below the fusion site, so bone can break down a little faster than normal," Riew explains. "If the patient is a young person, then they may need another operation in 20 or 30 years. The hope with artificial cervical disc replacement is the preserved motion may protect against additional stress at other levels of the spine."

In the short term, Riew says most patients receiving artificial disc replacement surgery recovered faster and got back to normal life sooner than fusion surgery patients.

"They didn't need to wear a neck brace after surgery," he says. "If they had a job, they returned to work faster. And many had a resolution of their pain faster than fusion patients. With a spinal fusion, there are some pain and activity restrictions until the bone is fully incorporated, but with an artificial disc, as soon as the disc is in, it's 'good to go.'"

Riew, the Mildred B. Simon Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, professor of neurological surgery and chief of the cervical spine service for Washington University Orthopedics, says people from outdoorsmen to couch potatoes have seemed to do well following implantation of artificial discs. Last summer, he implanted an artificial disc into a professional baseball player's cervical spine. That player plans to return to the diamond and continue his career this season.

But at the moment, the discs are not an option for some patients. Those with arthritis or disc disease at multiple levels in the spine are not good candidates. A barrier for those who are good candidates is that many insurance companies don't yet cover them.


Contact: Jim Dryden
Washington University School of Medicine

Related medicine news :

1. New Technology May Boost Artificial Arms
2. Weizmann Institute scientists create working artificial nerve networks
3. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey(R) Proudly Announces Its First Elephant Calf Born From Artificial Insemination
4. Bi-Coastal Pharmaceutical Corp. Acquires U.S. Marketing Rights to Aquoral(TM) Artificial Saliva Product
5. AMA Supports Ban of Artificial Trans Fats in Restaurants and Bakeries Nationwide
6. Archus Orthopedics Performs First Facet Replacement Procedure With an Artificial Disc
7. Breast Cancer Action Targets Yoplait in Think Before You Pink Campaign; Calls for Yogurt Without Artificial Hormones
8. Researchers design model for automated, wearable artificial kidney
9. Photos: Los Angeles Non Profit Teams With US Troops Stationed in Baghdad and Buaytha in Bringing a 5-Year-Old Blind Iraqi Girl, Whose Father Stands Beside US Combat Team Against Al Qaeda, to the US for a Groundbreaking Artificial Corneal Transplant Surger
10. Fertility Doctors: Studies Suggest Artificial Insemination Increasingly Second Choice
11. Bioartificial Kidney Cuts Death Risk, Improves Outcomes
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... The holiday season ... and pleasing the palates of attendees is of the utmost importance. Whether you ... seasonal get-together, give these recipes a try this holiday season. , Turkey Croquettes ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Cokato, MN (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 ... ... manufacturer, launched offering factory direct sauna parts and accessories. , Sauna accessories ... representative of the bather’s style and personality. From basic styles for the purist ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... ... On November 10, 2015, Bohrer Brady, LLC filed a class and collective ... home health care worker who provided companionship services for the elderly, ill or disabled ... Humana, Inc., Humana at Home, Inc., and SeniorBridge Family Companies (CT), Inc. since January ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Lakeview ... the country to celebrate their sobriety and show through pictures what a positive ... after” photos this Thanksgiving with the hashtag #FacesOfGratitude on their Facebook, Twitter, and ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Wimbledon Health Partners, ... new Wimbledon Athletics Facebook page to educate the public, parents and ... abnormalities. About 2,000 people under the age of 25 die from sudden cardiac ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... India , November 27, ... --> --> ... personal emergency response system (PERS) ... steadily for 5 years with ... region expected to see a ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Nederland, November 26, 2015 ... Een nieuwe aanpak combineert immunotherapie met Bremachlorin-photodynamische ... ) --> ...      (Photo: ) ... Universitair Medisch Centrum (LUMC) blijkt ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 Research and Markets ( ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in the ... Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities" ... --> --> This new 247-page ... therapeutic drug monitoring market, including emerging tests, technologies, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: