Artificial Disc Replacement

Artificial Discs Replacement

Artificial disc replacement is fast overtaking traditional spinal fusion surgery as an effective treatment for those suffering from chronic back pain due to problems with discs in the spine.

In artificial disc replacement, worn out discs are replaced with artificial discs made of plastic and metal. These artificial discs mimic normal spinal movement and provide patients with greater flexibility, enabling them to resume everyday activities upon recovery, within three to six weeks. In spinal fusion surgery, the affected discs are removed and the adjacent vertebrae in the spine are fused together with rods, screws and a bone graft. Besides a longer downtime of up to nine months, additional stress is also placed on the discs adjacent to the fused area. It is estimated that 10-year recurrence rate of back problems after spinal fusion is about 25%.

Spinal experts have expressed optimism about artificial disc replacement treatment, especially after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the SB Charite artificial disc in 2004. However, it is warn that the long-term outcomes of artificial disc replacement and the lifespan of the discs are not well-established as yet, and doctors should practice cautious diagnosis and treatment.

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