Summer 2005

Charite Artifical Disc Training at UCSF

UCSF Medical Center is the Northern California training center for implanting the Charite artificial disc, the only artificial disc device approved to date by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"While most patients get pain relief from fusion surgery, it robs them of flexibility and range of motion," says Sigurd Berven, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon in the UCSF Spine Center. "The disc provides patients with a less invasive surgery option, shorter recovery time, and increased mobility and flexibility."

The disc consists of two metallic plates and a movable high-density plastic center that allows for a movable axis or rotation rather than a fixed axis. The FDA approved the device in October 2004 for adults up to age 60 who have a single degenerative disc between one of the two lowest lumbar vertebrae and who have never had a fusion operation. Berven says patients who have advanced facet arthropathy or instability are not good candidates for the surgery.

UCSF has become a leader in implantation procedures. Surgeons have implanted the device in more than seven patients and are now averaging one surgery per week

"Men and women are calling their doctors, demanding this surgery," says Berven, noting that it has had more clinical testing than any other artificial discs under development. "But because this is a new and highly involved surgery, it is important for them to understand they must seek out surgeons who are trained correctly and have acquired experience."

Rate of Surgeries Increasing

Thousands of the Charite devices have been implanted in patients in Europe and several hundred in patients in the United States. The rate of surgeries performed on the lower back in the United States has increased in recent years, with an estimated 365,000 surgeries performed each year, according to the Institute for Low Back and Neck Care.

In addition to the artificial disc for the lower spine, UCSF surgeons are evaluating discs for the neck and back as well as surgical materials and techniques that will help to further revolutionize spine surgery. The UCSF Spine Center is a collaborative practice of orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, neurologists, physiatrists and others who treat complex spine conditions.

For more information, contact Pat Malone, R.N., at (415) 353-4970. To refer a patient to the UCSF Spine Center, please call toll free (866) 81-SPINE or (866) 817-7463.

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