Object: The authors report the 5-year results for radiographically demonstrated adjacent-level degenerative changes from a prospective multicenter study in which patients were randomized to either total disc replacement (TDR) or circumferential fusion for single-level lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD).
Methods: Two hundred thirty-six patients with single-level lumbar DDD were enrolled and randomly assigned to 2 treatment groups: 161 patients in the TDR group were treated using the ProDisc-L (Synthes Spine, Inc.), and 75 patients were treated with circumferential fusion. Radiographic follow-up data 5 years after treatment were available for 123 TDR patients and 43 fusion patients. To characterize adjacent-level degeneration (ALD), radiologists at an independent facility read the radiographic films. Adjacent-level degeneration was characterized by a composite score including disc height loss, endplate sclerosis, osteophytes, and spondylolisthesis. At 5 years, changes in ALD (ΔALDs) compared with the preoperative assessment were reported.
Results: Changes in ALD at 5 years were observed in 9.2% of TDR patients and 28.6% of fusion patients (p = 0.004). Among the patients without adjacent-level disease preoperatively, new findings of ALD at 5 years posttreatment were apparent in only 6.7% of TDR patients and 23.8% of fusion patients (p = 0.008). Adjacent-level surgery leading to secondary surgery was reported for 1.9% of TDR patients and 4.0% of fusion patients (p = 0.6819). The TDR patients had a mean preoperative index-level range of motion ([ROM] of 7.3°) that decreased slightly (to 6.0°) at 5 years after treatment (p = 0.0198). Neither treatment group had significant changes in either ROM or translation at the superior adjacent level at 5 years posttreatment compared with baseline.
Conclusions: At 5 years after the index surgery, ProDisc-L maintained ROM and was associated with a significantly lower rate of ΔALDs than in the patients treated with circumferential fusion. In fact, the fusion patients were greater than 3 times more likely to experience ΔALDs than were the TDR patients. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT00295009.