Background: Replacement of a diseased lumbar intervertebral disc with an artificial device, a procedure known as lumbar total disc replacement (LTDR), has been practiced since the 1980s.
Methods: Comprehensive review of published literature germane to LTDR, but comment is restricted to high-quality evidence reporting implantation of lumbar artificial discs that have been commercially available for at least 15 years at the time of writing and which continue to be commercially available.
Results: LTDR is shown to be a noninferior (and sometimes superior) alternative to lumbar fusion in patients with discogenic low back pain and/or radicular pain attributable to lumbar disc degenerative disease (LDDD). Further, LTDR is a motion-preserving procedure, and evidence is emerging that it may also result in risk reduction for subsequent development and/or progression of adjacent segment disease.
Conclusions: In spite of the substantial logistical challenges to the safe introduction of LTDR to a health care facility, the procedure continues to gain acceptance, albeit slowly.
Clinical relevance: Patients with LDDD who are considering an offer of spinal surgery can only provide valid and informed consent if they have been made aware of all reasonable surgical and nonsurgical options that may benefit them. Accordingly, and in those cases in which LTDR may have a role to play, patients under consideration for other forms of spinal surgery should be informed that this valid procedure exists.
Keywords: informed consent; lumbar artificial disc replacement; lumbar disc arthroplasty; lumbar disc degenerative disease; lumbar discectomy; lumbar fusion; lumbar total disc replacement.
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