Simulation Aids Researchers Studying Spinal Disc Implants

DePuy Spine Inc., one of the fastest growing companies within the medical device and diagnostic sector of Johnson & Johnson, is a leading supplier of orthopedic spinal implants to treat patients with spinal conditions resulting from degenerative diseases, deformities, trauma and sports-related injuries. One of the company’s leading products is the CHARITÉ™ artificial disc. The device recently was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is the first device introduced in the U.S. as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery for treatment of lower back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. Until recently, surgical interventions consisted of limiting the range of motion of afflicted spinal segments. The CHARITÉ is designed to eliminate pain and maintain motion of the operative segment. The device incorporates a mobile core design while most competitive artificial discs offer a fixed core that may not restore full range of spinal motion and consequently may transfer additional stress to other areas of the spine, at which point secondary problems may develop. Major drawbacks, such as larger stresses and unnatural motion paths, are even more pronounced with traditional spinal fusion surgery in which adjacent vertebrae are rigidly joined to totally immobilize a portion of the spine.

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