Forty-two year old Debbie Bernhard's neck pain actually began in her left arm.
“My arm went numb,” says Debbie, “my neck was sore and I had difficulty turning my neck and the arm would really hurt.”
The radiating pain Debbie felt was actually a herniated disc and pinched nerve in her neck. Her treatment was this stainless steal implant called the "Prestige" implant. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration this year, the implant is now being used by surgeons at Rochester General Hospital.
“This is not primarily a neck pain operation, this is primarily for patients who primarily have neurological conditions,” says Dr. M. Gordon Whitbeck, an orthopedic surgeon at Rochester General Hospital who performed the operation.
“It's more likely that the symptoms will develop in a patient that already has a worn disc, and does not know it,” says Whitbeck, “it can occur in male or females, less common in the 20s, more common in the 30 and up.”
The surgery takes two hours. The procedure involves removing any damaged tissue and the damaged disc. Once the diseased or damaged portions are removed, the Prestige disc is implanted. Each disc is measured to fit the space per patient. The implant is held in place by a variety of screws and unlike traditional fusion surgery which leaves little motion, the Prestige implant allows the patient to move their neck freely. Debbie went home the next day.
“I drove within a week.”
Even though the Prestige implant is a less-invasive surgery, not everyone who experiences chronic neck pain or degenerative cervical disease is actually eligible for the Prestige implant.
“It's safe to say 85-percent of those can be managed with non-operative treatments as physical therapy, perhaps chiropractic in certain cases, perhaps anti-inflammatory medications,” says Dr. Whitbeck who believes the Prestige implant will currently replace 40-percent of his current traditional cervical fusion surgeries.
Debbie's only other option was fusion surgery which is why the Prestige implant was the right fit for her.
“You don't realize how much you use your neck until you can't use it and it hurts.”
For more information on the Prestige Implant surgery, you can call Rochester General Hospital’s information line: (585) 922-LINK.