Sunday, October 26, 2008

Treatment of cervical degenerative disc disease - current status and trends.

Review of Korianth MC (2008)......
Although less frequent than lumbar degenerative disc disease, cervical disc disease may be much more neurologically compromising due to anatomical particularities. Since its first description together with the typical signs and symptoms the operative therapy of cervical disc disease has undergone a changeful evolution over the years. The frequent shifts of paradigms in treatment are particularly noticeable compared to other neurosurgical diseases. Initially, the dorsal decompression of neural structures (laminectomy) with a more or less invasive posterior approach (posterior foraminotomy) was the primary aim of the operation. Because of anatomical limitations, a paradigm shift occurred in the middle of the last century, favouring an anterior approach and discectomy, without and with implantation of various spacers (arthrodesis). A large variety of different materials and designs for these implants as alternatives to autologous iliac crest bone were established, all with the aim of creating a solid fusion of the operated segment. Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), regarded worldwide as the "gold standard" for the treatment of cervical disc disease, was later complemented by modified, minimally invasive or endoscopic techniques using anterior and posterior approaches. The fear of adjacent level disease in the vicinity of a fused cervical segment led to another paradigm shift in the last few years, away from fusing procedures, towards new motion preserving technologies (arthroplasty) and back to minimally invasive dorsal techniques for the treatment of cervical disc disease. This article reviews the evolution of the operative treatment of cervical disc disease in the last 80 years, outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and technique and focuses on the rationale of the paradigm shifts. Current established and alternative treatment concepts are illuminated and discussed together with the currently relevant literature.

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