Skip to:

Indications for Lumbar Total Disc Replacement: Selecting the Right Patient with the Right Indication for the Right Total Disc

Karin Büttner-Janz,, Prof.,1 Richard D. Guyer, MD,2 Donna D. Ohnmeiss, Dr.Med.3

1Büttner-Janz Spinefoundation, Berlin, Germany; 2Texas Back Institute, Plano, Texas; 3Texas Back Institute Research Foundation, Plano, Texas


Summary of Background Data

As with any surgery, care should be taken to determine patient selection criteria for lumbar TDR based on safety and optimizing outcome. These goals may initially be addressed by analyzing biomechanical implant function and early clinical experience, ongoing evaluation is needed to refine indications.


The purpose of this work was to synthesize information published on general indications for lumbar TDR. A secondary objective was to determine if indications vary for different TDR designs.


A comprehensive literature search was conducted to identify lumbar TDR articles. Articles were reviewed and patient selection criteria and indications were synthesized.


With respect to safety, there was good agreement in the literature to exclude patients with osteopenia/osteoporosis or fracture. Risk of injury to vascular structures due to the anterior approach was often addressed by excluding patients with previous abdominal surgery in the area of disc pathology or increased age. The literature was very consistent on the primary indication for TDR being painful disc degeneration unresponsive to at least 6 months of nonoperative care. Literature investigating the impact of previous spine surgery was mixed; however, prior surgery was not necessarily a contra-indication, provided the patient otherwise met selection criteria. The literature was mixed on setting a minimum preoperative disc height as a selection criterion. There were no publications investigating whether some patients are better/worse candidates for specific TDR designs. Based on the literature a proposal for patient selection criteria is offered.


Several TDR indications and contra-indications are widely accepted. No literature addresses particular TDR design being preferable for some patients. As with any spine surgery, ongoing evaluation of TDR outcomes will likely lead to more detailed general and device design specific indications.

total disc replacement, lumbar spine, indications, comprehensive literature overview
Volume 8 Article 12