Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults are diagnosed with Lumbar Disc Degeneration, a lower spine condition that can cause chronic back pain. This patient guide is intended to provide you with a better understanding of lumbar disc replacement as well as introduce you to the M6®-L Artificial Lumbar Disc, a novel and unique technology used to treat these painful degenerative lumbar conditions. This guide is not intended as a substitute for an informed discussion with your physician.
|The Lumbar Spine||Lumbar Disc Degeneration (DDD)|
|Treating Lumbar Disc Degeneration||Glossary of Terms|
|Glossary of Terms||M6-L Procedure|
What is the Lumbar Spine?
The lumbar spine is a complex system of bones, muscles, cartilage, and nerves designed to support the weight of the upper body while allowing movement in multiple directions. The low back officially begins with the lumbar region of the spine directly below the cervical and thoracic regions and directly above the sacrum. The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae called L1 through L5.
The Lumbar Intervertebral Disc
Between each vertebra is a disc; a shock-absorbing pillow that helps maintain proper spacing, stability, and motion within the lumbar spine. Each disc has a fibrous, tire-like outer band (called the annulus fibrosus) that encases a central gel-like substance (called the nucleus pulposus). The nucleus and annulus work together to absorb shock, help stabilize the spine, and provide a controlled range of motion between each vertebra.
As we age, the discs in our lumbar spine begin to flatten and wear down. When a disc flattens, it forces the vertebrae closer together, which can put added stress not only on the disc itself, but also on the surrounding joints, muscles, and nerves. This process is called Lumbar Disc Degeneration, and can lead to several painful conditions.
Current Treatment Options
For most patients, non-surgical or conservative treatments will effectively relieve symptoms of Lumbar Disc Degeneration. These treatments may include a combination of rest, physical therapy, or the use of painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications. If pain persists despite these treatments, surgical treatment options may be considered. Your doctor will review the various treatment options available so that you can make an informed decision.
The most common surgical procedure for treating Lumbar Disc Degeneration is Spinal Fusion, which removes the degenerated, painful disc and replaces it with a bone graft. Over time, the bone graft will unite with the vertebra above and below the disc space, thus “fusing” the two vertebrae together to form a single column of bone. The goal of spinal fusion is to eliminate pain by eliminating motion between the two vertebrae and restore proper spacing between them. Thus, fusion may reduce or eliminate chronic low back pain. However, because it also eliminates the motion and shock absorption at that segment, the adjacent segments are subject to increased stress, which may lead to more rapid degeneration, a condition known as Adjacent Level Degeneration.
Artificial Lumbar Disc Replacement
Artificial Disc Replacement has been developed as an alternative to fusion. Once the damaged disc is removed, it is replaced by an artificial disc. The artificial disc is designed to restore proper spacing between the vertebrae while preserving motion associated with a healthy disc. This motion may eliminate the occurrence of Adjacent Level Degeneration.
What Happens During Surgery?
During the disc replacement surgery, you will be lying on your back and the surgeon will operate on your spine through an incision near the belly button. The damaged disc is removed (discectomy), and the M6-L lumbar disc is then inserted into the disc space using specialized and precise instruments. After the M6-L is successfully placed, the incision is closed.
What Can I Expect After Surgery?
After surgery, your doctor will give you guidelines for activities and follow up requirements before you leave the hospital. You may undergo therapy to help heal and strengthen your lumbar spine. Follow-up examinations are performed after surgery with your physician to assess your recovery.
Adjacent Level Degeneration
Condition resulting from treatment at one level leading to increased stress, which may lead to more rapid degeneration at adjacent segments.
The fibrous tire-like outer band of a natural disc that encases the central gel-like substance (called the nucleus pulposus).
A lumbar prosthesis that is inserted between vertebral bodies after a degenerated disc is removed. The artificial disc is designed to maintain disc height as well as facilitate motion at the treated vertebral level.
The removal of part or the entire intervertebral disc.
Removal of the degenerated, painful disc and replacement with a bone graft. Over time, the bone graft will unite with the vertebra above and below the disc space, thus “fusing” the two vertebrae together to form a single column of bone.
Located between each vertebrae. Helps maintain proper spacing, stability, and motion within the lumbar spine. Each disc is comprised of a nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus.
Lumbar Disc Degeneration
Changes of the spine and its associated surrounding areas (intervertebral disc, spinal joints, etc.) that result from the natural aging process or injury that can limit the spine’s mobility and stability.
A gel-like substance in the center of the disc encased by a fibrous tire-like outer band (called the annulus fibrosus).
Vertebrae (Vertebral Body)
Bony segments that form the spinal column of humans. The lumbar spine consists of _ve vertebrae called L1 through L5.