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Preclinical and clinical experience with a viscoelastic total disc replacement

Burkhard Rischke, MD, PhD,1 Raymond S. Ross, MD,2 Boris A. Jollenbeck, MD,3 Kari B. Zimmers, BS,4 Neal D. Defibaugh, BS4
1Center of Orthopaedic and Spine Surgery, Zurich, Switzerland 2Hope Hospital, Manchester, UK 3Magdeburg Hospital, Magdeburg, Germany 4AxioMed Spine Corporation, Garfield Heights, OH



The purpose of this study is to describe the mechanical durability and the clinical and radiographic outcomes of a viscoelastic total disc replacement (VTDR). The human intervertebral disc is a complex, viscoelastic structure, permitting and constraining motion in 3 axes, thus providing stability. The ideal disc replacement should be viscoelastic and deformable in all directions, and it should restore disc height and angle.


Mechanical testing was conducted to validate the durability of the VTDR, and a clinical study was conducted to evaluate safety and performance. Fifty patients with single-level, symptomatic lumbar degenerative disc disease at L4-5 or L5-S1 were enrolled in a clinical trial at 3 European sites. Patients were assessed clinically and radiographically for 2 years by the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), a visual analog scale (VAS), and independent radiographic analyses.


The VTDR showed a fatigue life in excess of 50 million cycles (50-year equivalent) and a physiologically appropriate level of stiffness, motion, geometry, and viscoelasticity. We enrolled 28 men and 22 women in the clinical study, with a mean age of 40 years. Independent quantitative radiographic assessment indicated that the VTDR restored and maintained disc height and lordosis while providing physiologic motion. Mean ODI scores decreased from 48% preoperatively to 23% at 2 years' follow-up. Mean VAS low-back pain scores decreased from 7.1 cm to 2.9 cm. Median scores indicated that half of the patient population had ODI scores below 10% and VAS low-back pain scores below 0.95 cm at 2 years.


The VTDR has excellent durability and performs clinically and radiographically as intended for the treatment of symptomatic lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Clinical Relevance

The VTDR is intended to restore healthy anatomic properties and stability characteristics to the spinal segment. This study is the first to evaluate a VTDR in a 50-patient, multicenter European study.

Lumbar, Viscoelastic Total Disc Replacement
Volume 5 Issue 4