Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Intervertebral Cages for Degenerative Spinal Diseases

The Spine Journal, Volume 3, Issue 4, July-August 2003, Pages 301-309

Scott L. Blumenthal, Donna D. Ohnmeiss


Review Articles – Intervertebral Cages

Interbody fusion techniques have been used for many years for the treatment of a variety of lumbar spine diagnoses. Part of the interest in increasing methods of interbody fusion has stemmed from concern that posterior fusion alone may allow micro-motion, which may generate pain in a ruptured or degenerated disc. Stabilization of the anterior segment led to the development of interbody fusion cages. These devices were designed to stabilize the spine while bony ingrowth from the vertebrae to the bone graft occurred. There are a variety of techniques for cage insertion, including open and laparoscopic techniques anteriorly, and open posterior approach. A lateral approach for cage placement has also been reported. The purpose of this paper is to present a review of the literature on lumbar intervertebral fusion performed using interbody cages. The reported results for these procedures vary, but in general the majority of patients have had favorable results. The complications are similar to those encountered with traditional interbody fusion procedures using bone grafts. There is a learning curve associated with the procedures, particularly with the laparoscopic techniques. Appropriate training for the spine surgeon as well as the access surgeon is important. There is a great deal of disparity in reports on using the cages as stand-alone devices as well as on laparoscopic approaches. Overall, the use of interbody cages for fusion appears to be a viable treatment, yielding good results. Fusion cages appear to have a role in spine care; however, as with any procedure, patient selection and proper training of the surgeon are critical.

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