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Neurosurgeon First in Area to Implant Artificial Cervical Spinal Disc

New Britain [September 11 2007] - A Southington woman is the first person in Greater Hartford and only the second in Connecticut to undergo an artificial cervical spinal disc implant, an alternative to spinal fusion for some patients with severe disc problems.

Hospital of Central Connecticut neurosurgeon Ahmed Khan, M.D., implanted the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc during a Sept. 6 surgery. The PRESTIGE is the only FDA-approved artificial cervical disc implant available; it was approved in August.

Spinal discs are circular, flat structures made up mostly of cartilage that separate the vertebrae, acting as shock absorbers and keeping the spine flexible. Injury can cause discs to rupture (herniate), putting pressure on nerve roots and the spinal cord. Normal aging can also cause discs to flatten (degenerative disc disease). In both cases, bone spurs on vertebrae and narrowing of the nerve openings can result, causing pain, numbness and/or weakness in one or both arms.

Cindy Bossi, 53, of Southington had suffered for months with increasing pain and restricted movement in her left shoulder and arm caused by a bulging cervical disc and degenerative arthritis and bone spurs.

“I was miserable,” she said. “I finally got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. I was so pleased to learn I was a candidate for the artificial disc.”

Spinal fusion is currently a common procedure for patients with severe disc herniation or degenerative disc disease, Khan said. The surgery involves removing the complete disc, replacing it with a bone graft and attaching a plate with screws to two or more vertebrae. The goal is to fuse two or more vertebrae together.

“While fusion can be very effective, it can limit range of motion and flexibility in the neck. Spinal fusion can also add pressure to adjoining discs, causing them to degenerate more quickly,” Khan said. “The PRESTIGE Disc allows for preservation of normal motion. In most cases the patient can go home the day of or day after surgery, and recovery time is shorter than with traditional fusion.”

The PRESTIGE Disc is made of stainless steel, with a ball on top and a trough on the bottom. The device is inserted into the disc space and attached to the vertebrae on either side. The artificial disc functions like a normal joint, allowing patients to bring their chins to their chests, look up, bend their necks to either side and turn their heads.

Bossi will soon be able to get back to quilt-making and crocheting and to her secretarial job.

“When I woke up from the surgery I remember moving my arm and saying, ‘It doesn’t hurt!’” she said. “I’m so happy I don’t have that pain anymore.”

Contact: Nancy Martin, 860-224-5900, ext. 4366

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