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Tissue Engineering a Biological Repair Strategy for Lumbar Disc Herniation.


The intervertebral disc is a critical part of the intersegmental soft tissue of the spinal column, providing flexibility and mobility, while absorbing large complex loads. Spinal disease, including disc herniation and degeneration, may be a significant contributor to low back pain. Clinically, disc herniations are treated with both nonoperative and operative methods. Operative treatment for disc herniation includes removal of the herniated material when neural compression occurs. While this strategy may have short-term advantages over nonoperative methods, the remaining disc material is not addressed and surgery for mild degeneration may have limited long-term advantage over nonoperative methods. Furthermore, disc herniation and surgery significantly alter the mechanical function of the disc joint, which may contribute to progression of degeneration in surrounding tissues. We reviewed recent advances in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies that may have a significant impact on disc herniation repair. Our review on tissue engineering strategies focuses on cell-based and inductive methods, each commonly combined with material-based approaches. An ideal clinically relevant biological repair strategy will significantly reduce pain and repair and restore flexibility and motion of the spine.

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