Epidemiology of Indications and Contraindications to Total Disc Replacement in an Academic Practice

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon Dr. Kingsley R. Chin Medical Paper

Scientific Paper

Chin KR1.

Interested medical professionals can read through the full paper, as published in the Spine Journal, here.

Background Context

Given the experience with anterior lumbar cages, the similar enthusiasm for total disc replacement (TDR) and the economic incentives driving use of this new technology, it is important to document reasonable expectations as to the incidence of patients with appropriate indications for this new technology.


To document epidemiological data for the indications and contraindications to total disc replacement (TDR) to guide expectations for use of this new technology. STUDY DESIGN/SETTINGS: Retrospective evaluation of contraindications and indications for lumbar TDR in consecutive symptomatic patients presenting to an academic spine practice.

Patient Sample

Six hundred twenty-seven consecutive symptomatic patients presenting to an academic spine service.

Outcome Measures

Presence of contraindications to lumbar TDR based on Food and Drug Administration criteria.


Over a year, 627 new patients were evaluated by the only orthopedic spine surgeon on faculty at a major university. 131 underwent lumbar surgeries. Surgical patients were divided into Group 1 (57 patients who had fusions) and Group 2 (74 patients who had nonfusion surgeries). The incidence (period prevalence) and prevalence (point prevalence) of indications for and contraindications to TDR were documented.


The incidence of indications for TDR was 0.5% (3/627). The prevalence of no contraindications to TDR in the fusion Group 1 was 5% (3/57). Overall, 9% (3 fusion and 9 nonfusion) had no contraindications to TDR and the same percentage satisfied indications for TDR. However, 96% (71/74) of Group 2 patients considered themselves satisfied with laminectomies and laminotomies. The combined average number of contraindications to TDR was 2 (SD, 1.33) (range, 0-6). For Group 1, it was 3 and 1 for Group 2 (p<.5).


Despite early enthusiasm for TDR replacing fusion, there was only a 0.5% incidence of indications for TDR in the overall population and a 5% prevalence in the fusion patients, but the majority were in young patients who averaged about 38 years old. The absence of contraindications for TDR did not equate to indications for TDR because other nonfusion techniques exist. Based on the history of the introduction of other new spinal technologies and the fact that the current criteria for TDR seems to result in a relatively small number of eligible patients, there is risk of overuse of this new technology.

About Author Dr. Kingsley R. Chin

Postoperative Cervical Haematoma Complicated by Ipsilateral Carotid Thrombosis and Aphasia After Anterior Cervical Fusion: a Case Report
Dr. Kingsley R. Chin, Founder of philosophy and practice of The LES Society and The LESS Institute

Dr. Kingsley R. Chin is a board certified Harvard-trained orthopedic spine surgeon and professor with copious business and information technology exposure. He sees a niche opportunity where medicine, business and info. tech meet – and is uniquely educated at the intersection of these three professions. He has experience as Professor of Clinical Biomedical Sciences & Admissions Committee Member at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, Professor of Clinical Orthopedic Surgery at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Visiting Spine Surgeon & Professor at the University of the West Indies, Mona, and Adjunct Professor of Clinical Biomedical Studies at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

Learn more about Dr. Chin here and connect via LinkedIn.

About Less Exposure Surgery

Less Exposure Surgery (LES) is based on a new philosophy of performing surgery, leading the charge to prove through bench and clinical outcomes research that LES treatment options are the best solutions – to lowering the cost of healthcare, improving outcomes and increasing patient satisfaction. Learn more at LESSociety.org.

The LES Society philosophy: “Tailor treatment to the individual aiding in the quickest recovery and return to a pain-free lifestyle, using LES® techniques that lessen exposure, preserve unoffending anatomy and utilize new technologies which are safe, easy to adopt and reproducible. These LES®techniques lessen blood loss, surgical time and exposure to radiation and can be safely performed in an outpatient center. Less is more.” – Kingsley R. Chin, MD

About The LESS Institute

The LESS Institute is the world leader center of excellence in Less Exposure Surgery. Our safe, effective outpatient treatments help patients recover quickly, avoid expensive hospital stays and return home to their family the same day. Watch our patient stories, follow us on Facebook and visit TheLESSInstitute.com to learn more.

About SpineFrontier

The above study utilized LES Technology from SpineFrontier – leading provider of LES Technologies and instruments – offering surgeons and patients superior technology and services.

Scientific Paper Author and Citation Details


Chin KR1.

Author information

  • 1. Department of Orthopaedics, Spine Surgery Service, 2 Silverstein, 3400 Spruce Street, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. kingsleychin@hotmail.com

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