ArthritisToday.com—April 14, 2011
Patients who undergo artificial disc replacement surgery instead of having spinal fusion surgery – especially when several discs are involved – do better long-term and have lower hospital costs. That’s according to two recent studies published in the SAS Journal of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery and the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.
Spinal fusion surgery connects, or fuses, vertebrae with bone. Artificial disc replacement, as the name indicates, replaces the damaged disc with an artificial one – that has metal endplates and a high molecular weight poly ethylene core – that is designed to mimic the real thing.
But to really understand the effects of these surgeries long-term, Frank Cammisa Jr., MD, a spine surgeon and chief of the Spine Surgical Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, says studies need to look at patients after 10 or 15 years, not just four. And patients should be wary of blanket statements about these two types of surgeries.
“Artificial disc replacement is not a good option for everyone,” Dr. Cammisa says. “It’s based on a lot of factors. Not everyone is a candidate for this, and you want to go to a surgeon familiar with both procedures to decide what's best. One size doesn't fit all.”
The full story originally appeared at arthritistoday.org.