Cervical Total Disc Arthroplasty (TDR)

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Evolution of Cervical Total Disc Arthroplasty (TDR)

Cervical arthroplasty was first developed in 1966. At the time, ACDF was gaining popularity due to reports of great clinical success. The interest in cervical arthroplasty arose because it offered patients a movement-preserving procedure in comparison to the ACDF. However, they were largely abandoned shortly thereafter due to high complication rates experienced with early designs.

It wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that this procedure began gaining popularity in Europe after more advanced modifications were made, resulting in improved patient outcomes. In 2002, first reports on modern cervical ADR appeared with the premise that it would decrease or prevent adjacent segment disease by maintaining motion. Since 2010, there have been several randomized controlled trials published that demonstrate superiority to cervical fusion with regards to reoperation rate and quicker return to work in comparison to ACDF. Furthermore, patients are immobilized in a cervical collar for only 1 week postoperatively.

Overall complication rate has been shown to be equivalent or better than ACDF, although there are unique complications to be mindful of. The most common complication reported is heterotopic ossification, which abnormal bone growth around the implant. This may lead to loss of motion in some patients.

Although it is a common complication of the procedure occurring in 50% of patients over a ten-year period, it is regarded by some as a rather insignificant complication considering the alternative procedure (ACDF) completely eliminates motion from the start. Proponents argue that in the subset of patients who would develop HO, it is better to give them 5-, 10-, 15-years of preserved motion before the development of HO limits or completely eliminates motion.

The most fearful complication of TDR is neurological injury from component malposition or migration; however, this is rare. Considering this is an artificial joint, there also is the risk for possible revision of components secondary to wear. It is also important to remember this is a relatively new procedure and long-term outcome studies are still not available.

This procedure is FDA approved for skeletally mature adults (age 22-60 years old) for reconstruction of a single disc from C3-C7 vertebrae for intractable symptomatic cervical disk disease (SCDD). It is recommended that this technology be reserved for those who have failed at least six weeks of nonoperative treatment.

This technology should not be used for any patient with an active infection, significant osteoporosis (defined as DEXA bone density measured T-score less than or equal to -2.5), allergy or sensitivity to the implant material (cobalt, chromium, molybdenum, polyethylene, titanium), severe cervical spondylosis (loss of disc height >50% or an absence of motion <2 degrees), or instability. This procedure can be used below prior fusions, avoiding the need to remove a plate or minimizing esophageal or RLN manipulation.

Cervical disc arthroplasty is performed through an anterior approach with a 3-5cm horizontal incision made on one side of the neck. The vertebral segment of diseased disc is then exposed and removed, along with any osteophytes or other causes of nerve compression. Once decompression is complete, the disc replacement device is sized and placed into the appropriate position between the vertebra with the aid of live xray (fluoroscopy). Once in place, the wound is closed. Patients often are able to go home the same day

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