Which Design and Biomaterial Factors Affect Clinical Wear Performance of Total Disc Replacements? A Systematic Review

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Format of Original

11 p.

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Source Publication

Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research

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Original Item ID

doi: 10.1007/s11999-014-3751-2



Total disc replacement was clinically introduced to reduce pain and preserve segmental motion of the lumbar and cervical spine. Previous case studies have reported on the wear and adverse local tissue reactions around artificial prostheses, but it is unclear how design and biomaterials affect clinical outcomes.


Which design and material factors are associated with differences in clinical wear performance (implant wear and periprosthetic tissue response) of (1) lumbar and (2) cervical total disc replacements?


We performed a systematic review on the topics of implant wear and periprosthetic tissue response using an advanced search in MEDLINE and Scopus electronic databases. Of the 340 references identified, 33 were retrieved for full-text evaluation, from which 16 papers met the inclusion criteria (12 on lumbar disc replacement and five on cervical disc replacement; one of the included studies reported on both lumbar and cervical disc replacement), which involved semiquantitative analysis of wear and adverse local tissue reactions along with a description of the device used. An additional three papers were located by searching bibliographies of key articles. There were seven case reports, three case series, two case-control studies, and seven analytical studies. The Methodological Index for Non-randomized Studies (MINORS) Scale was used to score case series and case-control studies, which yielded mean scores of 10.3 of 16 and 17.5 of 24, respectively. In general, the case series (three) and case-control (two) studies were of good quality.


In lumbar regions, metal-on-polymer devices with mobile-bearing designs consistently generated small and large polymeric wear debris, triggering periprosthetic tissue activation of macrophages and giant cells, respectively. In the cervical regions, metal-on-polymer devices with fixed-bearing designs had similar outcomes. All metal-on-metal constructs tended to generate small metallic wear debris, which typically triggered an adaptive immune response of predominantly activated lymphocytes. There were no retrieval studies on one-piece prostheses.


This review provides evidence that design and biomaterials affect the type of wear and inflammation. However, clinical study design, followup, and analytical techniques differ among investigations, preventing us from drawing firm conclusions about the relationship between implant design and wear performance for both cervical and lumbar total disc replacement.


Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, Vol. 472, No. 12 (2014): 3759-3769. DOI.

Jeffrey M. Toth was affiliated with Medical College of Wisconsin at the time of publication.