Motion preservation is a relatively new concept in spine surgery. In suitable patients these procedures can be performed as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery. Whilst spinal fusion surgery is often effective in treating pain and other conditions it will cause reduced mobility and can lead to adjacent level disease which sometimes makes it necessary to undergo further surgery in the future. The additional biomechanical stresses that fusion causes on the adjacent spinal motion segments can lead to accelerated degeneration of these adjacent segments. The concept of motion preservation in spine surgery is similar to that of hip or knee replacement surgery where the motion in these joints is preserved by implanting a mobile joint replacement device rather than performing a fusion.
Artificial discs are implants to replace the injured or diseased discs. They are available for cervical and lumbar spinal conditions where patients suffer from neck or back pain due to disc injury or degeneration or from nerve pain in arms or legs.
Some patients are not suitable candidates for artificial disc replacement surgery but might be candidates for posterior motion preservation devices or dynamic fixation. These devices avoid the complete stiffening of a fusion by reducing(but not stopping) the mobility of a diseased spinal motion segment. They can be useful to treat facet joint pain, discogenic pain, spinal canal stenosis and several other conditions. Implants include posterior dynamic stabilisation devices that use flexible rods between spinal stabilisation screws and interspinous spacer implants. Posterior spinous stabilisation devices can also be combined with a spinal fusion to fuse less segments and to avoid or delay adjacent level deterioration in the future.
At the NeuroSpine Institute we have extensive expertise with these types of surgery and we will always consider motion preservation surgery in an attempt to avoid performing a spinal fusion when possible.