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Surgical Treatment for Discogenic Low-Back Pain: Lumbar Arthroplasty Results in Superior Pain Reduction and Disability Level Improvement Compared With Lumbar Fusion

Fred H Geisler, MD, PHD1

1The Illinois Neuro-Spine Center at Rush-Copley Medical Center, Aurora


The US Food and Drug Administration approved the Charité artificial disc on October 26, 2004. This approval was based on an extensive analysis and review process; 20 years of disc usage worldwide; and the results of a prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trial that compared lumbar artificial disc replacement to fusion. The results of the investigational device exemption (IDE) study led to a conclusion that clinical outcomes following lumbar arthroplasty were at least as good as outcomes from fusion.


The author performed a new analysis of the Visual Analog Scale pain scores and the Oswestry Disability Index scores from the Charité artificial disc IDE study and used a nonparametric statistical test, because observed data distributions were not normal. The analysis included all of the enrolled subjects in both the nonrandomized and randomized phases of the study.


Subjects from both the treatment and control groups improved from the baseline situation (< .001) at all follow-up times (6 weeks to 24 months). Additionally, these pain and disability levels with artificial disc replacement were superior (< .05) to the fusion treatment at all follow-up times including 2 years.


The a priori statistical plan for an IDE study may not adequately address the final distribution of the data. Therefore, statistical analyses more appropriate to the distribution may be necessary to develop meaningful statistical conclusions from the study. A nonparametric statistical analysis of the Charité artificial disc IDE outcomes scores demonstrates superiority for lumbar arthroplasty versus fusion at all follow-up time points to 24 months.

lumbar arthroplasty, total disc replacement, clinical trial, statistical analysis
Volume 1 Issue 1