Failed Spinal Fusion May Be Improved with Disc Replacement

Dr. Kenneth Light is a spine surgeon who has performed cutting-edge spinal fusion reversal surgeries and is well-known for treating patients who have had failed spinal fusions.

Until recently, the only course of treatment for many patients has been a spinal fusion procedure which is done to stabilize the spine and to prevent further damage to the injured area. However, spinal fusion has disadvantages, including a variable loss of range of movement in the treated areas and in many cases, recurring pain and further damage to the spine.

Dr. Light says that total disc replacement using a device called the ProDisc Implant can be beneficial for revision, or “reversal” of a previous spinal fusion as well as an alternative to fusion in the first place. “Spinal disc replacement is done to address complicated back problems without resorting to a spinal fusion.” The implants are designed to maintain the physiological range of motion in the spine, which can greatly improve the patient’s quality of life. An added benefit is shortened recovery time for most patients. “I believe that artificial disc replacement will eventually replace the majority of spinal fusions,” says Dr. Light. “Most patients experience little downtime and are able to return to their regular activities in a matter of days.”

With total disc replacement (TDR) surgery, surgeons can offer their patients an attractive alternative to spinal fusion surgery for the treatment of degenerative disc disease (DDD) in the lumbar spine, or the treatment of symptomatic cervical disc disease (SCDD) in the cervical spine. The TDR procedure is intended to relieve pain and preserve motion.. During both TDR surgery and spinal fusion surgery, the pain-generating disc is removed and the disc height is restored. During a spinal fusion surgery, the spinal segment is stabilized with an implant and plate and/or rods and screws. Bone grafts may be used to promote fusion of the vertebrae. However, during a TDR surgery a spinal implant, or artificial disc that allows the potential for motion is inserted into the disc space, rather than “fusing” the vertebrae.

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