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A discectomy is a common surgical procedure performed to remove the fibrous disc material between adjacent vertebrae in the spine, known as vertebral disc. Current methods and tools used in discectomies are time consuming and potentially dangerous, with opportunity for human error. There is a need for a new method of disc removal that can improve clinical results by reducing surgical times, preventing damage to surrounding anatomy, and more thoroughly removing the vertebral disc. A reduction in surgery times and increase of effective disc removal will help to increase success, recovery, and spinal fusion rates. This project aims to provide a prototype instrument and associated bench top test focused on providing a more streamlined and successful discectomy procedure from the posterior approach while mitigating the risks associated with human error. Collaboration with industry experts resulted in the modification of commonly-used pituitary rongeurs to include in-line aspiration through surgical tubing. This development improves upon the current surgical technique by eliminating the need to remove the instrument from the patient, thus reducing time requirements and preventing the need for additional training. Current discectomy methods require up to three hours for a full disc removal under optimal conditions. This method aims to reduce that requirement by approximately half. In addition, research into synthetic disc material, coupled with available 3D printing technology, has yielded a bench top test that can be used in regulatory validation and proof of concept. This test aims to recreate disc anatomy without requiring access to expensive and single-use cadavers.

Publication Date



Additive Manufacturing, Biomedical Application, CAD Design, Design Optimization


Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Charles Cartin

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

May 2018

Alternative Method for Posterior Lumbar Discectomy and Development of Associated Bench Top Test