Cervical Fusion vs. Artificial Disc Replacement
I've been dealing with shoulder and arm pain down on the right side for over 3 years. 50 year old active male. Buldging discs at C6/7 (now herniated) and pain to the fingers that is typical of C7/T1. Have had 3 epidurals (only the 1st one worked for a month) a pain mgt Dr. for meds, and have seen 5 chiropractors, PT and have go to the Y regulally over these past 3 years. But not the last month, after an MRI and CT scan, the C6/7 disc herniation was confirmed. Intense pain down the same right side, but much worse to forearm and fingers, and a lot of weakness in right hand (...no sleep, lots of meds to get through, ...etc..)
After discussing/consulting with 3 different neurosurgeons, they all confirmed surgery is my only option for relief. Of course, they had 3 different suggested procedures.
1. 2 level anterior discectomy and fusion from C6 to T1
2. Posterior Cervical Foraminotomy to relief pain at C7/T1
3. Anterior Disc replacement at C6/7 with the Prestige (all stainless steel) and removal of bone spurs
#1 doctor claimed that fusion is the gold standard and after outlining all the risks, it will resolve the pain. Doctor #2 wanted to resolve the problem incrementally. if i got releif great, if not more surgery (which i didn't want). I decided on #3, but still working with the insurance company to cover it. My reasons:
- same or less recovery time than discectomy and 2 level fusion.
- better ROM than fusion
- Less strain on the adjacent discs that will likely occur with fusion ( my other discs are not in great shape)
- better chance at correcting problem, rather than attempting #2 and only temporarily resolves problem
- friend had the same surgery with same doctor at same C6/7, and is completly pain free.
I've read some of the clinical studies on ADR, and they all are very positive when compared to fusion. only 1 level is approved by the FDA, but i understand soldiers in Afganistan have used 2 and 3 levels of ADR to get back in the field, and are all doing great (not that I'm looking for 2 or 3 level). I would be very interested to hear if anyone else is considering ADR over fusion, OR fusion over ADR.
Thank you in advance, BJ in NJ