Researchers at Brigham Young University have developed an artificial spinal disc to treat chronic back pain. In a healthy spine, inter-vertebral discs are essential for healthy movement, however, over time they can be a major source of chronic back pain.
Traditionally spinal fusion procedures have been used to treat chronic back pain by replacing the problematic disc with bone to prevent pain being generated during movement. But patient satisfaction with this procedure can be low. Total disc replacement implants aim to improve treatment outcomes for patients suffering from chronic lower back pain.
The BYU device was developed in order to provide increased quality of motion and wear characteristics over existing total disc replacement implants. The disc consists of a flexible, elastic structure which mimics natural spine movement.
To date, the researchers have evaluated the implant in cadaveric spines and have reported on the mechanical characteristics of the disc in a recent edition of the International Journal of Spine Surgery. The technology has been licensed by Crocker Spinal Technologies who hope to begin international sales distribution as early as next year.
Abstract in International Journal of Spine Surgery: A compliant-mechanism approach to achieving specific quality of motion in a lumbar total disc replacement