Artificial Disc May Relieve Neck, Arm Pain
Metal-on-Metal Disc May Relieve Degenerative Cervical Disc Disease
March 19, 2004 -- A new type of artificial implant may help
relieve the neck and arm pain caused by degenerative cervical disc disease and
allow free movement of the neck.
New research suggests that a metal-on-metal artificial cervical
disc may serve as an effective alternative to spinal fusion for people with the
Researchers say more than half of people over 40 have cervical
disc disease, which is caused by degenerative changes in the bones of the upper
neck. The disease leads to symptoms such as neck pain, pain that radiates down
the arm, and numbness. This persistent pain also can cause sleeping
The most common from of surgical treatment for the symptoms
caused by degenerative cervical disc disease is cervical fusion, which clears
away injured or degenerative disc. During this procedure, bone from the hip is
grafted onto the area and left to heal with a covered rigid plate. This
ultimately limits movement in the neck.
If further studies show that the artificial device is safe and
effective in stabilizing the neck bones, it will help reduce the need for
Artificial Cervical Disc Eases Pain
In the study, researchers evaluated the mechanical stability of
the Prestige Artificial Cervical Disc. The device consists of two stainless
steel parts that are surgically attached with screws to adjacent spinal bones
in the neck .
"The prosthesis simulates the function of a natural
cervical [neck] disc," says researcher Russ P. Nockels, associate professor
at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, in Maywood, Ill.,
in a news release.
Researchers tested the disc prosthesis in the lab and found it
was able to withstand extreme forces without becoming displaced.
"The disc is strong enough to withstand sudden movement and
support the head," says Nockels. "Patients are able to move their head
up and down, and from side to side."
In addition, researchers say that several artificial cervical
disc recipients involved in clinical trials of the device have been involved in
serious motor vehicle accidents, and X-rays of these patients showed the device
continued to function normally. But this evidence is only anecdotal, and
further research is required before the artificial cervical disc can be
approved for use by the FDA.
The study was funded by the device's manufacturer, Medtronic
Sofamor Danek, which is a WebMD sponsor.