Few biomechanical in vitro studies have reported the effects of disc replacement on motion and kinematics of the cervical spine. The purpose of this study was to analyze motion through 3D load-displacement curves before and after implantation of a ball-and-socket cervical disc prosthesis with cranial geometric center; special focus was placed on coupled motion, which is a well-known aspect of normal cervical spine kinematics.
Six human cervical spines were studied. There were 3 male and 3 female cadaveric specimens (mean age at death 68.5 ± 5 years [range 54–74 years]). The specimens were evaluated sequentially in 2 different conditions: first they were tested intact; then the spinal specimens were tested after implantation of a ball-and-socket cervical disc prosthesis, the Discocerv, at the C5–6 level. Pure moment loading was applied in flexion/extension, left and right axial rotation, and left and right lateral bending. All tests were performed under load control with a 3D measurement system.
No differences were found to be statistically significant after comparison of range of motion between intact and instrumented spines for all loading conditions. The mean range of motion for intact spines was 10.3° in flexion/extension, 5.6° in lateral bending, and 5.4° in axial rotation; that for instrumented spines was 10.4, 5.2, and 4.8°, respectively. No statistical difference was observed for the neutral zone nor stiffness between intact and instrumented spines. Finally, the coupled motions were also preserved during axial rotation and lateral bending, with no significant difference before and after implantation.
This study demonstrated that, under specific testing conditions, a ball-and-socket joint with cranial geometrical center can restore motion in the 3 planes after discectomy in the cervical spine while maintaining physiological coupled motions during axial rotation and lateral bending.