Magnetic resonance imaging evaluation of adjacent segments after disc arthroplasty.

Chris J. Neal*, Michael K. Rosner, Timothy R. Kuklo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


OBJECT: Disc arthroplasty in the lumbar spine is an alternative to fusion when treating discogenic pain. Its theoretical benefits include preservation of the motion segment and the potential prevention of adjacent-segment degeneration. Despite the need to evaluate the benefit of preserving the adjacent segments after disc replacement, no study has been conducted to assess the ability of magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to depict the adjacent segments in patients who have undergone disc replacement surgery. METHODS: Postoperative lumbar MR images were obtained in the first 10 patients in whom a metal-on-metal disc arthroplasty system was used to treat the L4-5 or L5-S1 levels. At the superior adjacent level, the superior endplate and disc space were demonstrated on 90% of the images on both T1-weighted fluid-attenuated inversion-recovery (FLAIR) and T2-weighted sequences despite the presence of artifacts. The inferior endplate at this level was documented on 70% of both T1-weighted FLAIR and T2-weighted sequences. At the level below the disc replacement in patients who underwent L4-5 surgery, the superior endplate was demonstrated on 66.7% of the T1-weighted FLAIR sequences but only 33.3% of the T2-weighted images. The disc space and inferior endplate were depicted on 66.7% of both T1-weighted FLAIR and T2-weighted sequences. Axial images revealed an artifact in every adjacent space except at the L5-S1 level. CONCLUSIONS: Based on the results of this pilot study, it appears that sagittal MR imaging can be undertaken to evaluate the adjacent motion segment for degenerative changes following total disc arthroplasty in most patients. This imaging modality will provide an additional measure to assess the long-term efficacy of this intervention compared with other treatment modalities and the natural history of lumbar disc degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-347
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


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