Artificial discs or disk implants have been around since the early 1950s. Today's more modern technology has allowed scientists to improve the disc replacement.
Today's disc implants are made of a plastic center with a metal back. Spine surgeons in Europe are starting to report their results from using this generation of implants over the last 10 years.
Researchers have found that the real disc takes the load around the edges of the endplate, rather than through the center. They've tried to mimic this with the artificial implant. The goal is to match the implant to the bone as much as possible. This allows load around the edges and movement through the center at the same time.
As more is found out about how the natural disc works, the artificial disc will change and improve to match it. Its use will probably become more common in the years ahead.