Artificial Disc Replacement - Life Span

Prices in Germany are normally 75% below the cost for a artificial disc replacement surgery in the US and are individually quoted. All surgeries are performed by our preferred doctor, who is the chief neurosurgeon with over 25 years experience. They include all medical expenses, the hospital stay, surgeon's fees, operation room fees, anesthesia, anesthesiologist's fees, medicine, nursing, semi-private room, meals, pre-op diagnosis, local phone and English TV.

How long will an artificial disc last in any individual patient cannot not be precisely determined by anyone, however statistics on previous patients and the knowledge of manufacturing testing can give us a fairly good estimate for the patient population in general. Because the artificial disc procedure for the lumbar spine has only been performed since the early 1990's with the artificial disc for the cervical spine soon following and because several modifications and variations to the original artificial disc design have been made, duration statistics of 20 to 40 years are not available. However, examination of the few artificial disc patients, who have died (all from reasons unrelated to the artificial disc, have shown the discs to be completely in tact. Additionally, at the time of this writing no known artificial disc failures have occurred in a living patient. Manufacturers of the artificial disc simulate the wear and tear of 40 to 50 years of life, by implanting the discs in cadavers and mechanically stressing the cadaver's back. The simulation plays a role in FDA approval. Now we even have some manufacturers guaranteeing their artificial disc replacements for 40 years.

Many try to estimate the life expectancy of an artificial disc replacement by comparing it to that of an artificial hip joint. They say that because the materials are similar in the two prostheses, that comparison is justified. But one should note that both the static and dynamic forces in these two joints are very different from the intervertebral joint, and the load in the intevertebral discs are much lighter than in the hip joints. However it is important to note that the biggest advances in hip endoprostheses are the ceramic-to-ceramic and the metal-to-highly-crosslinked polyethelene. Indeed, new hip replacement endoprostheses may now last up to 30 years, but failure is usually in the bone to prosthesis connection, not within the mechanical joint itself.

Although the goal of the manufacturers, doctors and client is for the client to have only one artificial disc replacement surgery in a life time, it is possible that young clients may indeed have more than one, due to the progression of disease.