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Doctors at Northwestern Memorial are studying next generation surgery for back pain sufferers

Surgeons at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) are enrolling people with degenerative disc disease in a research study to determine if new artificial discs will have the long-term durability to safely provide increased range of motion and less strain on the adjacent discs than spinal fusion.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital is one of approximately 30 sites around the country testing the Maverick artificial disc made from cobalt-chrome alloy. Currently, three artificial discs are being investigated in the United States. The newest, the Maverick artificial disc, is different in that it has two rather than three components, which are both made of metal rather than using any plastics or polymers. Some studies have shown that plastics and polymers can eventually wear down, and the resulting debris and the subsequent tissue reaction to such debris is the primary factor limiting the longevity of joint replacements.

"Artificial joints in knees and hips have been around for decades, but progress in material engineering and refinement of surgical techniques finally mean we can attempt disc replacement in as critical a location as near the spinal cord," says Srdjan Mirkovic, M.D., a spine surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, assistant professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, and principal investigator for the study at NMH.

At Northwestern Memorial, the study is being done collaboratively with surgeons in both orthopedics and neurosurgery.

The Maverick lumbar disc is made from a cobalt-chrome alloy, a metal frequently used for orthopedic implants. When assembled, it can move side to side or back to front. "The concept is borrowed from a concept used in replacing joints in other parts of the body," says John Liu, M.D., a neurosurgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, assistant professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine and a co-investigator for the study. "The Maverick disc has no plastic parts and uses
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Contact: Amanda Widtfeldt
awidtfel@nmh.org
3129262955
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
12-Jan-2004


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