Artificial disc replacement (ADR) or arthroplasty is an emerging technology in the field of spine care. Following removal of a cervical or lumbar disc for purposes of degeneration or decompression, a surgeon will often fuse the two vertebrae together, which puts added stress and strain on the adjacent levels and may ultimately result in the need for additional surgery.
A surgeon well versed in arthroplasty techniques may offer a disc replacement instead of a fusion. This preserves motion in the disc and the facet joints often referred to as “motion preservation” surgery. This has been proven to be a superior alternative in the appropriate patients in terms of outcome measures. Outcomes, results often measured with Neck Disability Index or NDI scores, as well as overall patient satisfaction scores are statistically improved when compared to fusion.
Arthroplasty patients experience an overall decreased rate of adjacent segment disease or degeneration of the adjacent level next to a fused segment and a significant decrease in the return to surgery rate due to this accelerated degeneration. Studies have shown that these cervical and lumbar arthroplasty techniques maintain segmental range of motion, thus improving spine health with better long term results. Motion preservation surgery can decrease the risk of adjacent surgery by up to 300%! This “preservation of motion” is what spine surgeons on the cutting edge are striving for.
10 year follow up study showed overall success rate considerably higher for arthroplasty vs fusion in terms of additional surgery, pain scales and disability index.