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Lower Spine News

Age and Total Disc Replacements

Successful total disc replacements (TDRs) may depend on choosing the right patient for the procedure. In this study, age of patients is considered as a possible factor in patient selection. In general, there isn't much known about the effect of age on outcomes for spinal surgery.

It makes sense that older adults with other health issues might have poorer results. This would be true for all types of spine surgeries when comparing older with younger patients. But research does not bear this out. In fact, some studies have shown younger patients have inferior results after spinal surgery.

Only patients with the Charité device were included in this study. The device was implanted at one level (L4-5 or L5-S1). There were two groups based on age. The first group was between the ages of 18 to 45. The second group were 46 to 60 years old. The groups were compared by measuring motion, pain, and function. Adverse events and patient satisfaction were also included as outcome measures.

There were no differences reported between the two groups in amount of blood loss or time it took to do the surgery. There wasn't much difference before and after surgery in terms of motion. The younger group has slightly more increased motion. Pain and disability were improved in both groups. Patients in the older group tended to report greater satisfaction with the results.

Overall, it did not appear that age had any effect on clinical outcomes. Patients in both groups had similar results. These findings suggest that the probability of success with TDR does not depend on age. Although choosing patients carefully is required for a good result, age is not one of those requirements. This conclusion is based on short-term results. Further studies are needed to focus on the effect of age on adjacent-level disc degeneration over a longer period of time.


Richard D. Guyer, MD, et al. Effect of Age on Clinical and Radiographic Outcomes and Adverse Events Following 1-Level Lumbar Arthroplasty After a minimum 2-Year Follow-up. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. February 2008. Vol. 8. No. 2. Pp. 101-107.

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