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Artificial Disc may Ease Back Pain

Friday, 15 Jun 2012 01:31 PM


Scientists have developed a new artificial spinal disc that they say may provide relief to millions of Americans with low back pain caused by disc problems.
The biomedical device to surgically treat chronic back pain has been licensed from Brigham Young University to a Utah-based company, Crocker Spinal Technologies, which will develop and market it.
A team of current and former BYU engineering specialists -- Anton Bowden, Larry Howell and Peter Halverson – reported on the device's ability to facilitate natural spine movement in a study published in the International Journal of Spine Surgery.
"Low back pain has been described as the most severe pain you can experience that won't kill you," said Bowden, a BYU biomechanics and spine expert. "This device has the potential to alleviate that pain and restore the natural motion of the spine – something current procedures can't replicate."
Low back pain is a major health problem that affects nearly 85 percent of Americans at some time in their lives and costs an estimated $100 billion every year. It’s usually caused by spinal discs – 23 Oreo-sized cartilage-filled discs that hold the vertebrae together and allow for movement -- that degenerate, bulge or rupture (herniate).
The most common surgical treatment for chronic low back pain is spinal fusion surgery, which replaces degenerative discs with bone. But success rates are low, with pain relief reported by less than 50 percent of patients.
The new artificial disc provides an alternative and can be used to replace defective discs. The BYU team built prototypes for the devices, machine-tested them and then tried them out in cadaveric spines. The tests showed the artificial replacement disc behaves similarly to a healthy human disc.
Halverson said the discs could reach the market as early as next year.


© HealthDay

 
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Newly developed spinal disc may provide relief to millions with back problems.
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