What is a Lumbar Arthroplasty?
Also known as a total disc replacement, lumbar arthroplasty involves the replacement of an intervertebral disc with an artificial metal and plastic prosthesis. The prosthesis allows motion between the vertebrae to be maintained. Initially it is held in place using screws, fins or press fitting but over time bone grows into the porous ends of the prosthesis to lock it in position.
Sometimes, the prosthesis cannot be inserted during the operation, in which case an intervertebral fusion will be done.
Best results are achieved with clients who have motion at the involved intervertebral disc, but no hyper mobility or instability.
When is it considered?
Lumbar arthroplasty is considered where diseased bone or intervetebral discs in the neck are causing neck pain, or placing pressure on the spinal cord or the nerve roots leaving the spinal cord. This then may cause pain, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.
Advantages of Lumbar Arthroplasty
- Does not require painful bone graft harvesting or foreign bone substitutes with infection risks
- Requires less post-operative immobilisation
- No risk of post-operative spinal deformity
- Less wear on the joints immediately above and below the arthroplasty
The goals of a lumbar arthroplasty are to provide long-term pain relief by:
- Replacing a degenerate painful disc
- Restoring the disc height to protect the spinal cord and spinal nerves and prevent further facet joint degeneration
- Preserving motion to prevent accelerated degeneration of the adjacent healthy discs.