Ball-and-Socket Disc Implant Restores Neck MotionDisc replacements for the spine are becoming a reality. Scientists are working to create an artificial implant that will keep the same disc height and spine motion. Until now, the disc has been taken out and the bones fused together. The patient gets pain control but loses function. Damage from increased loads through the bone cause problems at the spinal levels above and below the fused area.
In this study the effects of an artificial disc in the cervical spine (neck) are reported. A special ball-and-socket design was used. Range of motion and patterns of movement were measured after disc replacement in six cadavers. A cadaver is a spine saved after death for use in studies. The disc implant was put between C4 and C5 in the cervical spine.
A special motion analysis system was used to measure and record motion to within 0.1 degrees of accuracy. Motions measured included bending forward and back, tilting side to side, and turning or rotating. The load on the spine during these movements was also measured.
Data collected in this study show that the ball-and-socket disc implant has the same motion as a normal, healthy spine. In other words, normal neck motion is possible with the right disc design. This type of movement is called motion coupling. Load on the next spinal level may still be increased. More studies are needed to look at this issue.
Christian M. Puttlitz, PhD, et al. Intervertebral Disc Replacement Maintains Cervical Spine Kinetics. In Spine. December 15, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 24. Pp. 2809-2814.
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