• Allen MJ, Schoonmaker JE, Bauer TW, Williams PF, Higham PA and Yuan HA (2004). Preclinical Evaluation of a Poly (Vinyl Alcohol) Hydrogel Implant as a Replacement for the Nucleus Pulposus. Spine. 29: 515-523. *Department of Orthopedic Surgery, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York;; daggerDepartments of Orthopedic Surgery and Anatomic Pathology, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio; and; double daggerAdvanced Technology Group, Stryker Orthopaedics, Mahwah, New Jersey. STUDY DESIGN.: An in vivo investigation into the safety of a novel hydrogel implant designed to replace the diseased nucleus pulposus. OBJECTIVES.: To determine the local and systemic safety of this new implant in a nonhuman primate model. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA.: A poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA) hydrogel has been developed as a prosthetic replacement for the diseased nucleus pulposus. METHODS.: PVA implants were inserted into discectomy defects created in the L3-L4 or L4-L5 intervertebral disc in 20 male baboons. Empty discectomy defects served as a surgical control in 8 additional animals. Routine follow-up evaluations included radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, gross pathology, and histopathology of both local and remote tissues. RESULTS.: Insertion of the PVA hydrogel from an anterior direction produced extrusions in 5 animals from the first series of 15 surgeries (33%). A modified surgical technique, involving an anterolateral rather than anterior approach, was used in 5 animals, but the extrusion rate remained high (20%). Despite these surgical complications, the PVA implants were well tolerated over 24 months in vivo, with no evidence of device-related pathology in the adjacent disc tissue, spinal cord, or remote tissues. CONCLUSION.: Implantation of the PVA implant for periods of up to 24 months produced no evidence of local or systemic toxicity. Additional studies are now needed to determine the efficacy of the device in its intended application.