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Spine Arthroplasty's Next Generation

Executive Summary

Spine arthroplasty--replacing either the entire disc or simply the nucleus--is one of the most promising new therapies to treat patients with herniated discs and degenerative disc disease. But the technology has had a rocky history: rushed into patients too soon, without proper clinical trials, say critics, disc replacement languished in Europe and took a long time to attract interest in the US. Moreover, first generation arthroplasty products, most notably discs, had several drawbacks that limited adoption--some were very hard to implant, for example, while others were too stiff and tended to extrude. Companies like Disc Dynamics hope to ride the wave of interest in disc and nucleus replacement as it develops new technology that is both superior to first generation products and backed by the proper kinds of clinical studies.

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