Additional developments in spine surgery will very likely be distinguished not only by advanced minimally invasive fusion techniques, such as imaging and robotics systems, but by new philosophies of treating spine disorders. For example, artificial discs have introduced a new field of spine surgery known as non-fusion, motion-sparing techniques, or motion preservation techniques.
Artificial discs may have the potential advantage of maintaining most of the motion in the spine segment that is treated, rather than eliminating it as a fusion does. This may restore the spine more closely to normal function and lessen the long-term detrimental effects of fusion surgery on discs at adjacent levels of the spine. The discogenic pain associated with pseudoarthrosis (failure of the bone to fuse) would also not be an issue with an artificial disc.
Other motion-sparing technologies are in the process of being developed and some are undergoing clinical FDA trials. The artificial cervical and lumbar discs are FDA approved for one and two level disc disease under certain circumstances. These discs aim to provide stability in the cervical or lumbar spine after removing the disc, with the advantage of maintaining motion. The other potential advantage would be that it may spare the next level from degenerating.
Motion-sparing techniques are used in several advanced spinal surgeries, such as:
Cervical artificial disk replacement – In this procedure, pressure on the nerves in your neck is released without affecting your range of motion. This procedure offers you a faster return to your normal lifestyle, with fewer restrictions on your activities soon after surgery.
Laminoplasty – This procedure takes the pressure off your spinal cord caused by cervical spinal stenosis but does not limit your ability to turn and move your neck following surgery, because there is no fusion. In the past, patients with cervical spinal stenosis required more extensive surgeries that would require multiple levels of the neck to be fused. Burak Ozgur, MD can resolve this with a laminoplasty procedure, where you can preserve motion and eliminate pressure on the spinal cord.