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Nucleus Replacement

AT A GLANCE

  • This is a surgery and technology still in development but holding excellent promise as an alternative to a total disc replacement operation.
  • The objective is to replace only the nucleus of a vertebral disc, or the center part, thus affecting less of the normal disc structure than is otherwise possible.
  • The idea is to surgically insert a device that replaces the nucleus and thus stabilizes the disc space, slowing the process of spinal degeneration and other problems associated with it, such as spinal stenosis.
  • When approved for widespread use, nucleus replacement will treat Herniated Intervertebral Disc and Degenerative Disc.

 

Nucleus replacement, or disc stabilization arthroplasty, will be one of the next major advances in spinal surgery. It is a partial artificial disc replacement performed with minimal invasion through a back, sideways or front approach to the spine.

Surgical attempts to replace the disc nucleus go back more than 50 years. Much of the challenge is to find the best material for the artificial disc. Surgeons have experimented with metals, ceramics, fluids, gels and coils.

Currently, a number of implants are available outside the United States and are being investigated in this country by the Federal Drug Administration, which must approve such implants and other medical devices.

This procedure can also be used to effectively treat recurrent disc herniations. One level or multiple levels can be treated in one operation.

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