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Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery - An Alternative to Lumbar Fusion

Updated on March 12, 2011

In this hub, I will talk about how artificial disc replacement surgery proves beneficial for patient suffering from chronic degenerative disc disease of the spine who are looking out for selecting a procedure or selecting a treatment and how lumbar fusion, the most popular procedure done for degenerative disease of the spine, could be replaced by artificial disc replacement surgery. Read on…

Degenerative Disc Disease Of The Spine

Patients having disc degeneration of the lower back sometimes start developing chronic disabling back pain. Most of these patients having symptomatic degenerative disease of the spines are treated conservatively with non-operative treatment measures such as:

·        Physical therapy or physiotherapy

·        Pain management injections for symptomatic pain relief

·        Anti-inflammatory medications to control further progression of degeneration of the spine

·        Other pain management procedures like steroid injections, etc

Many of these patients respond favorably to non-operative treatment options, but a small number of patients still remain in pain despite utilizing the above-mentioned conservative treatment methods.

Furthermore, development of severe chronic back pain starts to interfere with their health, ability to work properly and their ability to participate in normal ADLs or activities of daily living. As a result, these small numbers of patients may need surgical treatment such as lumbar fusion or artificial disc replacement surgery.

How an artificial lumbar disc replacement procedure is done?
How an artificial lumbar disc replacement procedure is done?

Failure Of Conservative Measures For Patients Suffering From Degenerative Disc Disease Of The Spine

There are many non-operative treatment options available for minimally invasive degenerative disc disease management for degeneration but if surgical treatment is indicated, surgery of choice by many renowned orthopaedic surgeons has traditionally been lumbar fusion, but lumbar fusion has many disadvantages, as the ability of bone to fuse or "heal" is variable. Average success rate of lumbar fusion is approximately 75 percent to 80 percent.

Disadvantages of Lumbar Fusion:

  1. First of all, the flaw in the healing of the fusion may be associated with the persistence of symptoms.
  2. Secondly, a type of lumbar fusion known as transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion or TLIF in one or several levels can cause decreased motion of the spine and stiffness of the spine.
  3. Thirdly, having lumbar fusion in one or more levels can cause spread of disease to adjacent levels, so the problem with lumbar fusion is that it can cause the development of many other associated symptoms or problems at other levels, which can lead to spinal surgery in the future.

An Alternative to Lumbar Fusion - Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery

Due to reasons mentioned above, orthopaedic health care surgeons and neurosurgeons have conducted various researches to create an alternative to lumbar fusion, which is known as artificial disc replacement surgery.

Now to get to know the disadvantages and advantages of artificial disc replacement surgery, it is really important to understand the normal anatomy of human spine and role of intervertebral discs in the spine and also know what is artificial disc, information on which I will publish soon and add links over here in this article.


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    • profile image


      18 months ago

      Had mine done 8 years ago. Have a full busy live. Riding bicycle, horse and even play some hockey. Dr Louis Nel in South Africa

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks for your comments friends.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Disc replacement has evolved over the years. Check out the m6 disc at betterdiscreplacement dot com or

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! this has helped me understand.

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes, I agree with you Mrs. Smith.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Its amazing what can be done these days, isn't it?

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks a lot ocbill and Veronica Allen for your comments. Artificial disc replacement is a type of arthroplasty and is also called TADR total artificial disc replacement.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for the detailed information. This will help those who suffer from this make a more informed decision.

    • ocbill profile image


      8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      great info. I never knew this procedure existed where it could be artificial.


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