Recent studies have been looking at the development of Heterotopic Ossification (HO) after a Cervical Disc Replacement. Heterotopic Ossification can simply be explained by bony growth outside the normal skeleton. Cervical Disc Replacement has been an alternative procedure for avoiding a fusion type of operation. The cervical disc replacement works by placing a mobile device that allows full range of motion in contrast to a fusion procedure. What we have noticed is that some of these devices begin to show extra bony growth (heterotopic ossification) like a fusion operation. The big question is whether or not this a bad finding.

Studies have shown the heterotopic ossification occurs frequently with disc replacement, but there is no change in the clinical or functional outcomes. HO is also more likely to occur in males. So will these disc replacements eventually fuse in the long term follow-up?

Many surgeons believe this is the case, but are not worried due to the fact that outcomes are still superior and preserved versus a fusion type of operation. Mechanically, the device is supposed to maintain motion, and it certainly has shown to in shorter clinical trials. However, long term studies (decades) have yet to be completed. Regardless of HO formation, we now do not look at this like a complication to the procedure, but maybe just an additional finding. Cervical Disc Replacement still continues to be a great option for the right candidates and continues to show excellent outcomes.


derek-e1435169419902-150x150About The Author: Derek N. Morrow, PA-C is a physician assistant with Prairie Spine and Pain Institute. Derek works in the clinic setting as a health care provider seeing patients. He is also utilized in the operating room as a first assist in surgery. In the clinic setting, his key function is to diagnose new patients and conduct their initial treatment. He works directly with patients to establish customized treatment programs and to monitor their progress. He also conducts history and physical evaluations for many patients. He performs many office procedures including trigger point injections, large joint injections, and bursa injections, all with the help of ultrasound guidance. He is radiologically trained, and uses his knowledge of X-ray, Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and EMG-Nerve Conduction Studies to establish a diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment. Derek is surgically trained and plays a vital role in the procedures we perform at Prairie Spine and Pain Institute.