Hendrik Schmidt, Stefan Midderhoff, Kyle Adkins, Hans-Joachim Wilke

November 2009, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp 1695 - 1705 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-009-1146-y

First Online: 04 September 2009

Although both unconstrained and constrained core lumbar artificial disc designs are in clinical use, the effect of their design on the range of motion, center of rotations, and facet joint forces is not well understood. It is assumed that the constrained configuration causes a fixed center of rotation with high facet forces, while the unconstrained configuration leads to a moving center of rotation with lower loaded facets. The authors disagree with both assumptions and hypothesized that the two different designs do not lead to substantial differences in the results. For the different implant designs, a three-dimensional finite element model was created and subsequently inserted into a validated model of a L4-5 lumbar spinal segment. The unconstrained design was represented by two implants, the Charité® disc and a newly developed disc prosthesis: Slide-Disc®. The constrained design was obtained by a modification of the Slide-Disc® whereby the inner core was rigidly connected to the lower metallic endplate. The models were exposed to an axial compression preload of 1,000 N. Pure unconstrained moments of 7.5 Nm were subsequently applied to the three anatomical main planes. Except for extension, the models predicted only small and moderate inter-implant differences. The calculated values were close to those of the intact segment. For extension, a large difference of about 45% was calculated between both Slide-Disc designs and the Charité® disc. The models predicted higher facet forces for the implants with an unconstrained core compared to an implant with a constrained core. All implants caused a moving center of rotation. Except for axial rotation, the unconstrained and constrained configurations mimicked the intact situation. In axial rotation, only the Slide-Disc® with mobile core reproduced the intact behavior. Results partially support our hypothesis and imply that different implant designs do not lead to strong differences in the range of motion and the location of center of rotations. In contrast, facet forces appeared to be strongly dependent on the implant design. However, due to the great variability in facet forces reported in the literature, together with our results, we could speculate that these forces may be more dependent on the individual spine geometry rather than a specific implant design.

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