Artificial Disc Replacement

In October 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first artificial lumbar disc for sale in the United States. Traditionally, spinal fusion surgery (rather than artificial disc surgery) has been the treatment of choice for individuals who have not found pain relief for chronic back pain through conservative treatment methods such as physical therapy or medications. Many of those unable to find relief have been restricted or rendered disabled from their activities of daily living, or simply from enjoying life pain-free. The approval of this new artificial lumbar disc offers new options and hope to these individuals.

The goal of lumbar disc replacement is to recreate normal function as an alternative to spinal fusion. When performing ADR, also known as arthroplasty of the spine, the doctor inserts a small prosthetic (artificial disc) comprised of a polyethylene core that slides between two metal end plates. The disc is made of the same material used in artificial hips and knees. The end plates are attached to the vertebral body with anchoring teeth built along the rim of the end plates. The prosthetic disc replaces the injured disc, helping to relieve chronic back pain. The ADR allows greater movement of the spine and quicker recovery.