Where Artificial Disc Technology is Headed


At the 20th Annual Spine, Orthopedic + Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference, attendees had the opportunity to join an engaging session on artificial disc technology and its future applications.

This panel was moderated by Claire Wallace, Writer and Reporter at Becker's Healthcare and featured experts in the field such as Carlos Bagley, MD, MBA, FAANS, FACS, Professor, Neurological Surgery; Orthopedic Surgeon; and Executive Vice Chair, Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Maahir Haque, MD, Spine Surgeon from Spine Group Orlando, and Brian Gantwerker, MD, Neurosurgeon from The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles. Together, these panelists discussed the most advanced developments in artificial disc technology and speculated on the future of its use.


Key Takeaways:

  1. Artificial disc technology is becoming more common in both lumbar and cervical applications.
    Advancements in technology and materials are removing reimbursement barriers and there is hope for more motion preservation, as well as FDA clearance for multiple level replacements when indicated. However, the biggest barrier at the moment is payer battles but with enough data to back it up, they can be convinced of its efficacy.
  2. More data and research is needed to make informed decisions in spine surgery.
    Machine learning can be used, but there needs to be human input for accuracy. Diagnostic tools and the collective experience of doctors and surgeons provide valuable insight.
  3. A philosophical shift towards a "one and done" approach is needed in orthopedic care.
    Surgeons should aim to give the patient 10-20 years of relief instead of trying to do too much at once. Artificial disc replacement should be viable in an ASC setting but there are still challenges related to quality of data, radiation, and understanding what the right answer is for each patient.
  4. Smart implants are becoming increasingly popular for joint replacements, and artificial discs may be the next big thing.
    However, there is the potential to overuse data to extend indications for surgery beyond what is necessary or safe. The cost of acquiring new robotics and training staff can be a major obstacle for orthopedic facilities. It is important to push back on reimbursements and ensure that patients are not expected to pay too little for operations.

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