Artificial neck disc as good as spinal fusion surgery: Experts

February 28th, 2009 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 28 (IANS) Orthopaedic surgeons say that artificial disc replacement works as well and often better than spinal fusion surgery on patients with damaged discs in the neck.
A disc in the spine is similar to a jelly donut, with a squishy centre surrounded by a tough outer portion. It functions like a shock absorber between the vertebrae. When a disc ruptures, the disc tissue can spread into the spinal canal and press against nerves causing numbness, weakness or pain.

Researchers found that 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,” said K. Daniel Riew, cervical spine surgeon at Washington University Orthopaedics 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.”

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.

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, said a Washington University release.

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 said.

These findings were reported in the January issue of Spine.

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