Adapting innovative motion-preserving technology to spinal surgical practice: What should we expect to happen?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Study Design. A literature-based review of approach-related morbidity and a conjectural analysis of potential complications of disc arthroplasty based on experience with total joint arthroplasty. Objective. To describe predictable complications of disc arthroplasty and possible strategies for minimizing or treating these complications. Summary of Background Data. There is a significant experience with anterior approach-related morbidity in spinal surgery. There is also extensive experience with extremity total joint arthroplasty. The combination of these experiences should predict certain occurrences that will occur with the advent of disc arthroplasty in the spine. Methods. Review of the medical literature associated with anterior approach to the lumbar spine for spinal fusion was done. Sequential steps for performance of disc arthroplasty and possible problems with each step were evaluated and possible complications identified. Parallel experience in total joint arthroplasty was reviewed for possible predictive experience. Results. There are definable approach-related morbidities that will occur, regardless of prosthesis design and implantation technique. Prosthesis design involves a series of tradeoffs for risks and benefits. Revisions are inevitable; rate of revision and time to revision remain to be determined. Conclusions. Disc arthroplasty will offer benefits over current fusion techniques. It will come at a cost and certain complications are entirely predictable. There will be deaths from the procedure, due to thromboembolic phenomenon or due to uncontrollable hemorrhage from irreparable vascular injury, especially on repeat operations. There will be prostheses that dislodge. There will be infections that require device removal, a very high-risk procedure. There will be a deterioration of results in the hands of the general medical community as opposed to the hands of the initial investigators, a learning curve if you will. The access surgeon will be critical to minimizing morbidity. Design considerations compete with anatomic constraints. Material choices all have pros and cons. Spine surgeons as a whole are excited about this opportunity, but we must be diligent to minimize these predictable adverse events to make the risk benefit profile the best that it can be for our patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S104-S109
Issue number20 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Oct 15 2003


  • Anterior approach
  • Complications
  • Disc arthroplasty

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Adapting innovative motion-preserving technology to spinal surgical practice: What should we expect to happen?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this