AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — If you’ve been told you have a herniated disc, you probably have been told you need a spinal fusion, which was the standard treatment for herniated discs in the neck for decades. But recent spine research studies have changed that, however, as new FDA-approved artificial disc implant designs have been released over the last three years. The burden, however, is on the patient to fully research the most advanced treatment for their neck problem. Otherwise they may be receiving outdated treatment that may cause additional disc herniations.
“Fifty years ago hip replacement was introduced in 1969, and it’s unthinkable today that someone with a painful arthritic hip would have that joint fused which would make walking almost impossible,” says Eeric Truumees, MD, a fellowship-trained spine surgeon at Texas Spine and Scoliosis in Austin, Texas, and past president of the North American Spine Society (NASS), the largest international group of spine specialists. “We are at a similar point today with herniated discs in the neck,” explains Dr. Truumees, also a former editor of the NASS Spine Research Journal. “Spine research studies have shown that artificial disc replacement preserves the natural motion and can reduce the need for surgery at other levels in the neck. With spinal fusion, you are locking two vertebrae together and that fusion puts extra stress on the discs above and below which can herniate those discs as well.”
Dr. Truumees is featured in the educational website CentersForArtificialDisc.com. Those with back and neck problems can now download a free 20-page Patient Guide that outlines in detail when a person should consider artificial disc replacement and the red flag symptoms for when to see a doctor for herniated disc symptoms to prevent permanent and lifelong weakness/numbness or paralysis in a hand or foot.
Artificial disc surgery — also referred to as motion preservation surgery — has rapidly evolved with new implants that replicate the rotation and shock absorption function of the healthy disc, according to Dr. James Lynch, a triple fellowship-trained spine surgeon at The Swift Institute, one of the largest spine and orthopedic specialty centers in the world. “Sadly, the patient may receive a dated treatment because a surgeon isn’t trained in artificial disc replacement,” explains Dr. Lynch, who was one of the first spine surgeons in Nevada to be trained in artificial disc replacement surgery. “Too many spine surgeons continue to recommend fusion and never discuss artificial discs as an option.”
With nearly 10 FDA approved different artificial discs the spine surgeon has many new options. “The newest artificial disc implants have sizes and features that provide a better fit and match to a petite woman vs. a larger male anatomy,” explains Dr. Truumees. “The new implants also have new surfaces that lengthen the lifespan of the disc, or some up/down shock absorption that replicates the function of the healthy disc.”
Recognizing that some spine surgeons bias the information in their web sites to their own capabilities, CentersforArtificialDisc.com was created to provide a balanced and unbiased source of information to patients. The free 20-page Patient Guide explains the limitations of spinal fusion as well as the pros and cons of artificial disc replacement. Disc replacement in the low back, for example, is more complex and the use of artificial discs in the low back lumbar area is still in development. Also more body weight for the trunk is place on the lumbar disc which can affect the lifespan of the disc.
The Patient Guide PDF can be downloaded free at CentersforArtificialDisc.com. The guide lists the artificial discs approved by the FDA and which ones are approved for use at two levels in the neck.