Medical Media Images

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What are Artificial Disc Replacements of the Low Back? Shown and Explained with Color X-Ray Images

Artificial Disc Replacements were invented in 1982 by researchers at the East Berlin Charite Hospital. That device, called the "Charite Artifical Disc" was first implanted in patients in 1984.
Since then numerous similar Devices have been invented. Some have gained approval by the FDA.
Currently, two types of Artificial Discs designed for the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) are FDA approved: 1. Prodisc-L Artificial Disc Replacement  2. Charite Artificial Disc Replacement. Both are made by a company called "DePuy-Synthes".

The goal of Artificial Disc Replacements is to replace a diseased Spinal Disc with an Artificial Device which is designed to mimic the function of a Natural Disc. The Natural Disc is a shock-absorber which can move in every direction. To replicate this type of motion has been very challenging for the Medical Device Industry.

Lets take a quick look at the Spinal Anatomy of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) to help us understand a Normal Spinal Disc. This Image is a Color MRI scan which is Interactive. If you move your mouse cursor over the Image, Interactive Tags appear. Each tag explains a specific part of the Image.

Sagittal Lumbar Spine Color MRI Image Spine Anatomy
Interactive Color MRI scan of the Anatomy of the Lumbar Spine (Low Back)

The Color X-Ray Image below demonstrates the bending motion provided by an Artificial Disc Replacement. The Lumbar Spine (low-back) is shown from the side, with the abdomen to the left and the back of the Spine to the right. The Artificial Disc (blue) allows the Spine to bend forward and backward. The dotted lines show the degree of opening and closing this Artificial Disc is capable of. This Image is also Interactive.

Lateral Color X-Ray Artificial Disc Replacement Flexion/Neutral/Extension
Interactive Color X-Ray Images showing an M6-L Artificial Disc Replacement which forward and backward bending

Artificial Disc Replacements can also be used to replace more than one diseased Disc. The Color X-Ray Image below shows two Artificial Disc Replacements implanted at adjacent Spinal Discs.
The black structure at the bottom Disc demonstrates a Spinal Fusion. As the two Discs above the Fusion degenerated over time, two Artificial Disc Replacements were implanted to preserve the mobility of the Spine. This Image is also Interactive.

Lateral Lumbar Spine Color X-Ray Artificial Disc Replacements above Fusion
Interactive Color X-Ray of two Lumbar Artificial Disc Replacements above a Fusion

Artificial Disc Replacements (ADR) are designed to provide some degree of mobility in the Spine as compared to Fusion Surgeries which eliminate mobility. While it makes intuitive sense that mobility would be better than a Fusion, Science has yet to prove that this is the case for the long-term. A number of studies have shown that in the short-term patients seem to do as well or better with the ADR compared to the Fusion, however only long-term (10,20,30 years) studies can prove that this is a better all around option. It is promising however, that the newer designs of ADRs seem to replicate the Natural Disc more closely.

If you enjoyed this Blog, here are some more related Blogs from MMI:

1. What is a Spinal Fusion Surgery of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine)? Shown and explained with Color X-Ray Images
2.  What is an Artificial Disc Replacement of the Neck (Cervical Spine)? Shown and Explained with Color X-Ray Images
3.  What is a Spinal Discogram Injection? Shown and Explained with Color MRI Images
4. Disc Herniations of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) shown and explained with Color MRI Images
5.  Spinal Stenosis of the Low Back (Lumbar Spine) shown and explained with Color MRI Images

Here is a Video about how Medical Media Images creates Color X-Ray and Color MRI Images:


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