Repairing a herniated disk

Prestige artificial spinal diskThis piece of hardware is an artificial spinal disc made by Prestige.

The apparatus is screwed into the vertebrae above and below the removed disc and rotates on a “ball-and-trough” system to restore motion.

Driving a concrete truck for thirteen years and
slinging the chute back and forth, Lazaro Puerto at only 45 and was crippled with pain. The FDA recently approved his replacement spinal disc, which is designed to ease pain and, unlike old procedures, restore a greater range of motion in his neck.

Until now, the “gold standard” operation has been to remove the damaged disc and fuse the two vertebrae together with bone grafts and titanium plates. It could stop the pain, but with loss of motion. Studies seem to successfully show satisfactory motion, although the surgery is considered high risk because it is near the spinal chord.

Artificial disk in the neck vertebraeA flexion-extension x-ray shows the artificial disk implanted in vertebrae of the neck.

Technology for back pain from damaged or herniated spinal disks is improving, but learning to care for the spine is important.

In the neck, the spinal cord and nerves are surrounded by bony vertebrae, which are separated from each other by discs that allow the neck to rotate and bend.

A disc is like a jelly doughnut, made of tough cartilage on the outside and softer material inside. If the disc is damaged, degraded or herniated by disease or injury, some of the “stuffing” comes out, and the disc no longer properly cushions the vertebrae. It leads to intense pain and loss of motion.

The implant could replace many of the 200,000 traditional cervical operations performed each year in the United States in which a damaged disc is removed and the vertebrae above and below it are fused with bone grafts. [link to story, also posted on my construction blog]