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New Cervical Disc Replacement

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Published on Oct 10, 2008

n Aug. 28, St. Vincents Spine & Brain Institutes Medical Director for Neurosurgery, Eric Gabriel, M.D., FACS, performed the first ProDisc Cervical Total Disc Replacement at St. Vincents Medical Center.

The patient was a 44-year-old faux painter who complained of arm pain so bad that he would have to lie down when it flared up. He also had difficulty turning to check his blind spots while driving.

The surgery only required a small incision in front of the neck to get to the unhealthy disc. During the 60-minute procedure, Dr. Gabriel and an operating room staff of about six associates, removed the patients degenerative disc at the C5 level of the spine and implanted the new artificial disc that allows for continued range of motion. Until now, the only alternative surgery was a spinal fusion, which involved fusing bones together by implanting bone grafts and metal plates and screws.

Spinal fusions have been done for 60 years and are pretty tried and true. But the procedure has long-term consequences, because the spine is not used to being fused together, and it can create some increased stress on levels above and below the fusion, Dr. Gabriel said. Patients who undergo the ProDisc-C replacement will hopefully be more active after surgery, because we are now able preserve the range of motion. If we fused the spine, it would tend to limit their activity.

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