Study Concludes that Artificial Disc Replacement is Safe and Effective

One of the most effective treatments that we provide to patients of our spine specialty practice in New Jersey is known as artificial disc replacement, or ADR. The procedure replaces a damaged cervical or lumbar disc with an artificial one. It is an alternative to fusion surgery that first began being offered in 2000, and which has continued to be perfected in the years since.

Though there were some initial concerns about the procedure, it has provided extremely positive results for our patients, and now a new study published in the international peer reviewed journal Spine has provided additional support for its use.

The report was published on November 7th and is titled ‘The Safety of Single and Multi-Level Cervical Total Disc Replacement in Ambulatory Surgery Centers.’ Its authors looked at both single and multi-level cervical artificial disc replacement procedures to evaluate the safety of doing the surgery in an outpatient setting.

About the Study

The study, which included 147 patients, also looked at surgeries that were performed as revisions of previous surgical procedures, and took into account variables including age, gender, body mass index, tobacco use, and other health factors that could impact the success or complication of patient outcomes.

It also took into account how long a patient spent in the operating room, whether they required hospital admission or experienced any type of complication or infection in the 90 days following the procedure.

The patients included in the study underwent a total of 231 artificial replacements, with 76 receiving a single level replacement and 76 receiving multi-level disc replacements of two, three and four. Patients had a median age of 50, with 71 being female and 76 being male.

The data collected from the surgeries and their outcomes was revealing. The study’s authors noted that the average amount of time that patient spent under anesthesia was 88 minutes, and that 90.3 percent were discharged directly home. The other ten percent went to an after-care facility.

The authors reviewed all of the data and outcomes and concluded that ADR surgeries performed in outpatient settings are safe as long as patients are carefully selected and the surgical team is experienced and efficient.

Studies like this are important in supporting patients’ understanding of the options available to them. Though not every patient is a good candidate for an artificial disc replacement, those for whom the procedure is deemed appropriate will likely experience far greater benefits from this innovative technique over fusion surgery, which can yield limited mobility.

Unfortunately, not every spine surgeon is experienced in this technique, and therefore many will not suggest it to patients for whom it could provide the fastest recovery and best outcome.

If you are consulting a spine surgeon who does not perform this surgery, it’s a good idea to also seek a second opinion from our lumbar spine specialty service. Our surgeons are skilled and experienced in this procedure, and will be able to determine whether you would be a good candidate.

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