UCSF Designated as Training Site for Artificial Disc

June 14, 2005
Contact: News Office (415) 502-6397

UCSF Medical Center has been designated as a training site to teach physicians to install the Charite artificial lumbar disc, the first artificial disc to receive approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Several other artificial discs are currently in clinical trials.

Dr. Christopher Ames, a neurosurgeon, along with Dr. Sigurd Berven, an orthopedic surgeon, are instructing visiting surgeons on implanting the artificial disc.

With an implant, the deteriorating disc is replaced with an artificial disc made of two metallic endplates and a movable high-density polymer center. The endplates support the core piece while securing the artificial device to the vertebrae above and below the disc.

"In our clinical studies with artificial discs, we've had great results," Ames said. "For the millions of people who have degenerative disc disease and more conservative therapies have not worked, this represents a real breakthrough, with a shorter recovery time and increased mobility and flexibility over fusion."

Ames added that the artificial disc is not appropriate for everyone. The FDA has approved its use in adults up to age 60 who have a single degenerative disc in one of the two lowest lumbar discs and have never had a fusion operation.

For more information, contact the UCSF Spine Center at (866) 81-SPINE or (866) 817-7463.