Motion Preservation Spinal Surgery

by Kim Pensenstadler, July 17, 2012

Now known for her penchant for over the top hats, a resemblance to one of the evil stepsisters in Disney’s Cinderella and as a secondary royal wild child (nothing compared to Prince Harry), Princess Eugenie now 22 years old has grown up not only under the strict guidance of the royal family, and thus the public eye, but has also managed a successful life despite coping with acute form of scoliosis.

Electing to have spinal surgery in 2002, the 12 year old princess managed to avoid the spinal fusion treatment option and instead found success with insertion of rods into her back. Because Princess Eugenie had only one main vertebrae affected by her scoliosis, she was able to avoid immobility and rigidity associated with spinal fusion surgery.

But not all of us are as lucky as Eugenie. Besides the title of princess only belonging to a select few in the world, those suffering from spinal injuries often do not also have the luxury of it only affecting one vertebrae, making spinal fusion surgery much more of possibility. However, with the various risks and restrictions associated with spinal fusion surgery, motion preservation surgery has become increasingly sought after as an alternative treatment option.

Because traditional spinal fusion surgery eliminates the movement of the affected joint, motion preservation surgery seeks to preserve the function of the joint while still treating the injury to the spine and the associated pain.

How Does Motion Preservation Surgery Work?

Motion Preservation Surgery is a relatively new technique, predicated on the use of a stainless steel artificial cervical disc which allows for continued natural rotation of the spine while providing both relief and treatment to the affected area. Most often back and neck pain are caused by the compression of the nerve because of increased pressure from the disc. Motion Preservation surgery removes the disc causing pressure on the nerve and replaces said disc with the artificial disc.

This procedure is a multi-step process and begins by removing the injured disc in pieces, thereby decompressing the affected nerve. After the disc is removed, small incisions are made on the upper and lower vertebrae of the injured area. These incisions are what hold the new component in place.

After the incisions are made, the new stainless steel artificial disc can be put into place, allowing for the continued use of the joint’s full functions. This is large departure from the standard spinal fusion surgery, which unlike motion preservation surgery, removes the injured disc and without replacement fusing the upper and lower vertebrae together and prohibiting any independent movement of either vertebrae.

Are You a Candidate for Motion Preservation Surgery

If you experience chronic neck or back pain, numbness in the extremities or a tingling sensation as a result of spinal injury, you may be a candidate for motion preservation surgery. Sufferers of such chronic diseases as Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), facet pain due to Osteoarthritis or Lumbar Spinal Stenosis may also benefit from motion preservation surgery, most especially if spinal fusion surgery is an option.

A variety of motion preservation devices are currently being studied as well as on the market, and can be used instead of or in conjunction with spinal fusion, making them an option for a abundance of spinal injuries and afflictions.

The Future of Motion Preservation Surgery

With many of the latest motion preservation devices still awaiting FDA approval, it is only a matter of time before motion preservation surgery as treatment option overtakes spinal fusion surgery.

As a relatively new procedure, its future is essentially boundless, allowing researchers to make strides in perfecting the procedure from a variety of angles. Giving way to more minimally invasive techniques as well as focusing on area-specific advancements, motion preservation surgery is becoming increasingly available and a successful technique.

With the creation and testing of devices focusing on such advancements in facet arthroplasty and posterior tension band devices, it is evident that motion preservation surgery will provide relief back pain sufferers across the spectrum, but also be able to attend to site-specific and individualized back conditions.

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