The Disc Replacement Book-Chapter 5

The Disc Replacement Book

To Fuse or Not to Fuse?  This is the question!  Spinal FusionDisc Replacement or another option?

We can help you understand your options, from spinal fusion alternatives to disc replacement options?

Why Disc Replacement?

In the last decades medical technology has moved forward at a faster than ever pace. Yet many spine surgeons remain stuck in the past, limited by regulation they are still using fusion surgery or outdated disc replacement technology. Are you asking Disc Replacement versus Fusion Surgery?

Due to FDA restrictions, limitations of the approved products, and the inexperience of many surgeons, many patients will be exposed to unnecessary risk, get debilitating fusion surgery, or continue to suffer needlessly. Most, never knowing there are better options available, technology that can preserve the natural motion of the spine, and surgeons with the experience required to help them.

Why Disc Replacement versus fusion surgery?

There are several concerns with spinal fusion surgery. Overall success rates are very low and the recovery is long and painful. Even after a "successful" spinal fusion, problems begin to develop soon after the fusion surgery. The segments next to the Fusion Surgery have more forces applied causing "adjacent level degeneration" which studies have shown will lead to additional pain and surgeries.

In this new book Spine Surgeon Dr. Ritter-Lang explains how Artificial Disc Replacement, Hybrid surgeries that may include multiple types of intervention, and Fusion Surgery Alternatives are changing the way we think about the "Gold Standard" Spinal Fusion Surgery.

What this book will teach you

Spinal fusion surgeries are on the rise.

In fact, spinal fusions are now the most common spinal surgery by far!

What once was a surgery of last resort is now performed over 400,000 times a year in the U.S. alone!

You will discover...

How Post Fusion Surgery Adjacent Segment Degeneration causes many fusion recipients to require more and more fusion surgery!

How Artificial Disc Replacement and hybrid interventions are helping patients get their lives back!
How patients are trading multi-level fusion for multi-level disc replacement surgery!

Why skiing, surfing, golf, horseback riding and even Ironman Traithlons are no longer a thing of the past for those who have suffered severe back pain!
And much, much more!

It's time to get your back BACK!

About The Author

Karsten Ritter-Lang, M.D., is a world-renowned leader in reconstructive spine surgery.

Dr. Ritter-Lang worked and taught at the Charite University Hospital, widely recognized as the birthplace of the first effective artificial disc replacement.

Dr. Ritter-Lang has been a specialist in the field of intervertebral disc prosthetics for over 20 years. He has performed approximately 7,000 surgeries, over 4,000 of which have involved artificial disc replacement. He has also performed several thousand spinal fusion surgeries and hundreds of hybrid interventions in his ongoing career.

His participation in the ongoing development of intervertebral disc replacement technology, prototypes, and implants makes him a valuable resource for other spine surgeons, who travel from around the world to observe and model his surgical techniques.

The Future of Spinal Fusion Alternatives

THE FUTURE OF artificial disc replacement and fusion alternatives in general is very exciting. After the decades of early experimentation with disc implants in the 60s, 70s and 80s, we have really reached the “golden age” of disc replacement. The 90s saw (for some of the world anyway) the general establishment of disc replacement as a viable alternative to spinal fusion, and the last 15 years have allowed the perfection of the surgical procedures and the development of ideal hardware solutions.

This is an incredible time. Artificial disc replacement has moved far beyond the experimental stage and is now recognized as an established and highly successful method for treating a variety of spinal conditions. While disc replacement is still limited in application in the U.S. and Canada, it is now considered the preferred and state-of-the-art alternative to spinal fusion in most of the developed world. Even in the U.S. and Canada, disc replacement is starting to take hold, though it may be many years before U.S. and Canadian surgeons (and their teams) develop the level of experience that can be found elsewhere.

With the increased utilization of disc replacement, hybrid solutions involving disc replacement with fusion are now being used more frequently to treat conditions where disc replacement alone is not appropriate. This means more people are receiving the benefits of disc replacement to the greatest extent possible, and more people are returning to fully-functional lives.

The future of fusion alternatives is very promising. Building on the work that has been done, there will certainly be new implants introduced. While I find this exciting, I know that any improvements from new implants will be very incremental in nature. The current state-of-the-art devices are extremely solid and reliable, and it is difficult to imagine any dramatic improvement. The greatest likelihood of change will come in the devices and procedures approved in North America, which is sadly lagging the rest of the developed world in this area. In the next five to ten years, we will likely see some of the best devices used in the rest of the world finally coming to use in the U.S. and Canada. Maybe someday we will see more multi-level disc replacement options approved by the FDA. Even then, the depth of experience in providing multi-level ADR may be lacking. Until then, patients desiring the best devices, multi-level options, and hybrid solutions may continue to look to Europe.

We now have decades of experience with modern implants and procedures, and the results are extremely favorable. After more than 4,000 successful disc replacement surgeries (and over 6,500 implanted devices) performed by myself and my team, I have had a chance to witness incredible recoveries, including patients who have returned to professional horseback riding, Iron Man triathlons, competitive volleyball, professional golf and much, much more. As exciting as these stories are, the most important stories are far more poignant: the man who can return to work and support his family; the woman who can walk after being told she would be confined to a wheelchair; the young father whose back pain restricted him to living on the floor but who now can live a normal life and be the dad he always wanted to be. These are the stories that make me so excited about what we do.

The future will be even better. More and more people will get to benefit from disc replacement. And we will hear more and more success stories and see more lives changed. It is an honor to have been part of the history and development of disc replacement, and it will be a greater honor as we move forward into its future. 

Karsten Ritter-Lang, M.D. Disc Replacement Specialist