July 1, 2008

JULY 2008 – Surgeons at CAMC have the latest tool to help battle neck pain. The Medtronic PRESTIGE Cervical Disc is the first artificial cervical disc approved for use in the U.S. for patients suffering from degenerative disc disease (DDD). The disc is an implant made of stainless steel designed to imitate the movements of the neck area of the spine and to relieve neck and arm pain caused by the disease. While 95 percent of patients successfully receive spinal fusion for DDD, surgeons adopted the artificial cervical disc as an additional option less than a year after the FDA approved it because of the reduced risks associated with the surgery and shorter recovery period. CAMC conducted its first procedure in April (2008). “The traditional procedure involved taking out the damaged disc and replacing it with bone and a plate,” said Matthew Walker, MD. “It took several months for the spine to fuse together and that area did not move. With this artificial disc, patients have nearly the same range of motion they had before, allowing for less pain, faster recovery and quicker return to normal activity.” “We go through the front of the neck, pushing the throat and windpipe out of the way to get to the spine,” said John Schmidt, MD. “This is an improvement on the previous treatment. The cervical disc maintains mobility without additional risk.” Before the implant can be inserted, patients opting for the surgery must meet certain conditions to ensure a high-quality outcome. “The main criterion for the procedure is the patient needs to be healthy with strong bones to support the implant,” Schmidt said. A clinical trial conducted by Medtronic from October 2002 to August 2004 showed that patients who had the surgery had a 26 percent faster recovery rate than patients who received the spinal fusion method in neurological aspects of sensory, motor and reflex functions. “Up to 90 percent of patients can go home the same day as surgery,” Walker said. “It’s no more dangerous than the traditional procedure. People return to work within a few days versus several weeks for the fusion procedure.”

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