Spring 2008 Issue
|Patients Find Alternatives To Spinal Fusion Surgery
By Seeking A Second Opinion
Prior to coming to Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, Chuck was told by his physician that he would need a spinal fusion to relieve his worsening neck pain. He underwent the same procedure 15 years earlier and another fusion was sure to impact his ability to enjoy white water kayaking, hiking and mountain biking.
“Spinal fusion is an effective technique for treatment of degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, and other spinal disorders. However, the known detrimental effects of fusion include the loss of mobility and a high risk of accelerating adjacent disc degeneration. These harmful consequences have driven the search for a viable alternative." said Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates neurosurgeon Vinay Deshmukh, M.D.
After reviewing Chuck's MRI, Dr. Deshmukh determined he was a candidate for a cervical artificial disc procedure. Artificial discs allow the patient to maintain a greater range of motion and also place less stress on adjacent discs than spinal fusion.
Patients who receive an artificial disc can also expect a shorter recovery period than with spinal fusion surgery. Generally, patients can go home the same day or the next day after artificial disc surgery and can begin using their new joint right away. With fusion surgery, the patients may require a cervical collar for immobilization and may take months to complete their fusion. Thus, the recovery time with artificial disc surgery is significantly quicker.
“It's been less than five months and I'm almost as good as new,” Chuck said. He is now swimming up to two miles a day and recently went white water kayaking on the French Broad River, something his intense neck pain had prevented him from doing for more than a year prior to his surgery.
Another Option For Treating A Ruptured Disc
Like Chuck Cloninger, Robert Bass also thought fusion surgery was his only answer when he came to Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, and Dr. Deshmukh, for a second opinion. Another physician had diagnosed Robert with a ruptured disc and recommended a spinal fusion, since Robert's insurance plan would not pay for an artificial disc.
Spinal fusion was not an appealing option for Robert. Because he was only 38 years old, the added stress on his vertebrae that would result from a spinal fusion meant he would probably require at least two to four more spine surgeries in his lifetime.
“I'm 95% healed,” said Robert. “It's pretty amazing and I'm very grateful to Dr. Deshmukh for finding an alternative treatment.”
“Maintaining quality of life is the ultimate goal,” said Dr. Deshmukh. “Motion preservation technologies such as artificial discs are a viable alternative to spinal fusions for many patients. When these newer advancements are not yet covered by a patient's insurance, other alternatives to spinal fusion are always considered. Chuck and Robert are key examples of our ongoing efforts to pursue the best possible outcomes for our patients.”
For more information about treatment of spine injuries and disorders, call 800-344-6716.
© copyright Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates