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Transplants Show Promise for Herniated Cervical Disc

Fresh-frozen composite disc allografts show good results in preliminary study

FRIDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- A preliminary study of five patients suggests that intervertebral disc transplantation can be used to treat degenerative spinal disease, according to a report in the March 24 issue of The Lancet.

Keith D.K. Luk, F.R.C.S., of the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues performed the transplants with fresh-frozen composite disc allografts after disc excision in five patients who had cervical disc herniation. The patients, who had an average age of 47, were followed-up for a minimum of five years.

Three months after surgery, all patients showed good union of the graft endplates, and by the end of follow-up all reported improvements in neurological symptoms compared with those prior to surgery. There were signs of mild disc degeneration but motion and stability of the spinal unit was preserved and there was no immunoreaction or olisthesis.

"On the basis of experience gained from the initial five patientsÂ…a second series of patients has undergone allograft transplantation with modified techniques. We are also pursuing further experiments in non-degenerated grafts serving as a scaffold for cell and growth factor treatment," the authors conclude.

Such disc transplantation "could open a new dimension in the treatment of degenerative disc disease," according to the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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