The Seattle Times published an article on March 9 by medical reporter Warren King about a new device designed to help relieve chronic lower back pain.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the artificial disc in October 2004 for patients with degenerative disk disease at one of two vertebrae in the lower back -- and who haven't been helped by more conservative treatment. Degenerative disk disease involves deterioration, from age or injury, of the disk, the natural cushion that separates the vertebrae of the spine.
Physicians hope the artificial discs will provide a long-term alternative to spinal fusion, where metal rods or cages are surgically implanted to stabilize the spine, relieve pain and induce one or more vertebra to grow together.
Made by DePuy Spine, a Johnson & Johnson company, the approved Charite artificial disc allows more flexibility than a fusion, has a shorter surgical recovery and is less likely to require additional surgery, according to its advocates.
"It's the best advance I have seen in spine surgery in 15 years," said Dr. Paul Schwaegler, one of five Seattle-area surgeons trained to perform the operation. Others are David Hanscom, Reggie Knight, Jeffrey Garr and Jay Williams.
To read this Seattle Times article, click here.
For more information about the Charite artificial disk, click here.