Disc ReplacementSpine is an extremely important structure in the body. It not only gives support to the body, but also allows mobility of the back in different directions. In addition to that, it houses the most important connection between brain and the rest of the body - spinal cord.
Spine is made up of number of vertebral bones stacked one on top of the other. In between the vertebrae are discs which lend mobility to the spine and act as shock absorbers. On the back side, there are two small joints at each levels - called facet joints. This type of structure allows one to bend and rotate in different directions.
When the discs wear out, spine at that particular level does not function normally and also the back becomes painful. The degeneration of disc leads to a condition called Degenerative Disc Disease. Whereas majority of such patients can be treated with painkillers, braces, physical therapy, small percentage of such patients do not respond to non-operative treatment and need surgery.
What are the surgical options ?
There are two types of surgical option in such cases : -
Disc replacement is the most innovative and modern treatment that is now available. In spinal fusion surgery, the disc (which is a soft material between two vertebrae) is removed and the space is packed with bone graft. In due course of time, the bone creates a solid bony bridge across the two vertebrae. By doing away with movement, previously painful segment is made pain free.
However, the disadvantage of this procedure is that not only does this takes away normal movements of spine at that particular level but also ultimately leads to degeneration of higher level of spine which was uninvolved earlier on. This thus leads to pain in uninvolved segment over the course of time.
Modern innovative operative treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease is - DISC REPLACEMENT. After removing the disc, it is replaced by an artificial disc which thus restores movements in that particular segment and also does not make higher motion segment of vertebral column painful in the longer run.
What is an artificial disc ?
It is a three-piece medical device consisting of a sliding core sandwiched between two metal endplates. The sliding core is made from a medical grade plastic and the end plates are made from medical grade cobalt chromium alloy. These materials usually do not harm the human body and are used in many other medical implants such as total knee replacement implants.
WHO is a candidate for Artificial Disc?
The Artificial Disc is an alternative to spinal fusion for patients who have one or two degenerated, painful discs usually between L4/L5 and L5/S1. The disc deterioration is confirmed by history, x-rays and MRI Scan. Patients should have failed at least six month of treatment such as pain medication, a back brace, or physical therapy. Patients who have had some type of minor lower back surgery may still receive the Artificial Disc.
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