Replacing a Disc, Preserving Motion

At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, Dr. Tinley is a spinal surgery specialist who utilizes a few different devices from Centinel Spine. In past blogs, we’ve discussed the device Tiger Woods used for his back fusion, the Centinel Spine STALIF M-Ti Anterior Lumbar Integrated Interbody fusion implant. Dr. Tinley offers STALIF devices for fusion on both the cervical and lumbar sections of the spine.

In these last two blogs of 2020, let’s get into two devices Dr. Tinley uses in lieu of fusion. These devices allow the patient to keep the spine moving in the repaired area by replacing the damaged spinal disc with an artificial disc made by Centinel Spine, the ProDisc.

Avoiding fusion is also referred to as “motion preservation surgery.” In this month’s two blogs for DFW, let’s get into total disc replacement surgery, one option in this new area of spinal surgery.

What is motion preservation surgery?

Motion preservation is a somewhat new concept. This group of surgeries aims to provide an alternative to fusion surgery, which could colloquially be thought of as “motion restriction,” since it fuses at least two vertebrae together and prevents motion in that section of the spine. That’s actually what makes fusion successful — by eliminating movement between vertebrae, issues with nerve compression and impingement can be lessened or eliminated.

With motion preservation, the goal is to not have to fuse vertebrae, enabling the patient to keep full range of motion. There are currently a variety of options in various stages of development and clinical study. Dr. Tinley currently performs one of these motion preservation surgeries — total disc replacement with the FDA-approved ProDisc-C and ProDisc-L devices. This is an exciting new option for our patients from Dallas and the surrounding areas.

What is total disc replacement?

The first motion preservation surgery to receive approval from the FDA was total disc replacement. These procedures can be thought of as similar to replacing a damaged knee with an artificial knee prosthesis. But instead of replacing a damaged knee joint, Dr. Tinley replaces a seriously damaged, degenerated disc with an artificial disc.

When would disc replacement be a better option than fusion?

Spinal fusion is effective for treating pain and other conditions caused by disc degeneration, but it will inevitably lead to reduced mobility simply because the patient has a single piece of fused vertebra instead of the two (or three) individual vertebrae he or she had before. In addition to decreasing some degree of movement, fusion creates biomechanical stress on the adjacent vertebrae above and below the fused vertebrae. Over time, these other vertebrae can begin to break down due to the new stress loads placed on them, loads that formerly were spread across the fused vertebrae.

Not every patient is right for disc replacement, but if possible, it’s a better option to continue to have movement between the vertebrae, as is allowed with disc replacement.

In December’s second blog, we’ll get into the two devices Dr. Tinley uses for these procedures. Until then, if you have chronic back or neck pain, it’s time to come see Dr. Tinley at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders. Call us at (817) 916-4685 to schedule your appointment.

Posted in: Degenerative Disc Disease

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