Health: For Back Pain, A New Kind Of Compact Disc

Every year, at least 200,000 Americans with chronic lower back pain turn to spinal-fusion surgery for relief. The Food and Drug Administration has approved an alternative called the Charité. It's an artificial disk--high- density plastic sandwiched between metal plates--designed to replace the natural fluid-filled disks of the lower spine when they are damaged by degenerative disk disease. Doctors hope the Charité, which has been used in Europe since 1987, will allow patients more freedom of movement than the spinal-fusion procedure.


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