REVIEW
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Lumbar disc arthroplasty.

BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Painful lumbar disc degeneration is one of the most common ailments treated by spine surgeons. Currently, early disc disease and herniation are often treated with microdiscectomy. Late disc degeneration is usually treated with arthrodesis. With the advent of new technology and techniques in lumbar disc arthroplasty, interest in preserving spinal motion at degenerated motion segments has increased. The goals of lumbar disc arthroplasty are to provide long-term pain relief at the degenerated disc level, to restore disc height to protect neural elements and to preserve motion to prevent posterior facet arthropathy and adjacent segment disease.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this review is to examine the anatomy and biomechanics of the lumbar motion segment to determine the features that successful disc arthroplasty prosthesis must possess. In addition, the early clinical results of three prostheses currently being used in humans are reviewed.

STUDY DESIGN/SETTING: Review of the literature.

METHODS: A systematic review of Medline for articles related to lumbar disc arthroplasty was conducted up to and including journal articles published in August 2003. In addition, the abstracts from the annual meetings of the North American Spine Society and Scoliosis Research Society from 1998 to 2003 were searched. The literature was then reviewed and summarized.

RESULTS/CONCLUSIONS: Short-term results of lumbar disc arthroplasty as measured by pain relief and disability are good in some studies. Implants are relatively safe in the short term, and with newer designs complications are usually related to the surgical approach rather than early implant failure. Recovery times appear to be shorter than arthrodesis. Despite the relatively good early clinical results of these devices, questions remain about the long-term efficacy in pain relief and maintenance of motion, the results of randomized comparative trials with fusion and the life span of the devices. In addition, late sequelae and revision options are unknown. Current indications for lumbar disc arthroplasty are in the setting of a Food and Drug Administration trial in young, nonosteoporotic patients with one or two level symptomatic disc degeneration without severe facet arthropathy, segmental instability or neural element compression requiring a posterior decompression.

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