Artificial Disc Replacement - Cervical Spine (thats the neck)

#1
Others of you have disc problems so I am going to share this in the hope it may be useful to someone.

I have a herniated, possibly prolapsed (popped), disc in my neck. It is the result of a bad opening during a skydive, I heard it go when my neck whiplashed and I thought for a moment I may be paralysed from the neck down, thankfully not.

The effects on me of the disc material pushing on the nerves is that: I get shite headaches every so often; I have a loss of movement in turning my head side to side; a slight loss of arm movement; loss of muscle strength in my arms; loss of muscle mass in my arms; if I lift my head back in what the Doc calls the breastroke swimmer (also like cycling and motorcycling) position I get severe tingling down my arms and numbness in my fingers.

As of today I am in Germany to visit a surgeon who I selected earlier this year and he is going to perform artificial disc replacement surgery on me. Why Germany and why not in the USA? Well, the Germans invented the procedure back in the 1980's at the Charite Institute in Berlin, they have had over 30 years of developing and perfecting the procedure so that it is considered a standard operation nowadays. As the developers they have taught the world to do the operation. The leading Doc's in Germany have performed the procedure up to 4000 times, whereas the leading light in the US has done it perhaps a couple of hundred times after being taught by the Germans.

In Germany the procedure is available through their health insurance if it is Dr recommended. They do the maths; if you are relatively young and have a slipped disc that is giving you gype so that you have to see the Doc every week, are going to be on pain pill's and receive physio for the next 30 years it is cheaper to pay out 17,000 Euros once to get you fixed once and for all. Simples. The NHS see's it differently, they see the price of the disc kit required for the operation (around 5K) as being too much and they would rather you went for tea and sympathy. That said, the kit is allowed in the UK and extreme cases would receive the treatment (just don't hold your breath waiting) there are surgeons who will do the operation privately (BUPA, PPP, etc.) in the UK, but again they were trained by the greatly more experienced Germans (who all speak english).

I am having my op done in Cologne/Koeln. Dr Biren Desai is the surgeon, normally they try not to operate on over 50's, but as I have the basic physique of someone 10 to 15 years younger (thank you army) he is happy to do me at 60. He is going to install an ESP prosthetic disc in my neck, the disc has 6 degrees of motion which is exactly the same as a normal disc, the structure of the disc allows a return to sporting activity once healed. The basic healing takes 6 weeks however, 6 months is recommended by US Navy surgeons who perform the surgery on injured Navy SEAL's. I have read the paper with post surgical timeline for fitness and they state that a SEAL should be fully fit and functional jumping out of planes, diving and back to full active deployable status at the 6 month point. Anyway, the EPS disc is a 3rd/4th gen disc, compared to the gen 1 they are allowed to use in the US, I also know that the EPS is offered privately in the UK. The disc is constructed using tried nd tested materials: Titanium alloy discs sandwiching a polysomethingorother flexible, compressible core, the titanium discs are coated with a bone growth promoter to speed bone growth into the titanium - yes bone grows into titanium. It takes 2 weeks for 50% bone growth and 6 weeks for full bone growth, meaning that after 6 weeks if you have been careful and not strained anything the disc is actually a part of your body - bionic mate.

Anyway, I arrive at the hospital on monday, I'm just getting over jet lag for a couple of days, Monday they check me over again, tuesday they do the pre-surgery starvation and enema (lovely), wednesday my spinal cord is severed - yes severed, thrilling. I should be compos mentis again probably late thursday, early friday and I shall let you know how it goes.

This is my Doc ===>
 
#3
Others of you have disc problems so I am going to share this in the hope it may be useful to someone.

I have a herniated, possibly prolapsed (popped), disc in my neck. It is the result of a bad opening during a skydive, I heard it go when my neck whiplashed and I thought for a moment I may be paralysed from the neck down, thankfully not.

The effects on me of the disc material pushing on the nerves is that: I get shite headaches every so often; I have a loss of movement in turning my head side to side; a slight loss of arm movement; loss of muscle strength in my arms; loss of muscle mass in my arms; if I lift my head back in what the Doc calls the breastroke swimmer (also like cycling and motorcycling) position I get severe tingling down my arms and numbness in my fingers.

As of today I am in Germany to visit a surgeon who I selected earlier this year and he is going to perform artificial disc replacement surgery on me. Why Germany and why not in the USA? Well, the Germans invented the procedure back in the 1980's at the Charite Institute in Berlin, they have had over 30 years of developing and perfecting the procedure so that it is considered a standard operation nowadays. As the developers they have taught the world to do the operation. The leading Doc's in Germany have performed the procedure up to 4000 times, whereas the leading light in the US has done it perhaps a couple of hundred times after being taught by the Germans.

In Germany the procedure is available through their health insurance if it is Dr recommended. They do the maths; if you are relatively young and have a slipped disc that is giving you gype so that you have to see the Doc every week, are going to be on pain pill's and receive physio for the next 30 years it is cheaper to pay out 17,000 Euros once to get you fixed once and for all. Simples. The NHS see's it differently, they see the price of the disc kit required for the operation (around 5K) as being too much and they would rather you went for tea and sympathy. That said, the kit is allowed in the UK and extreme cases would receive the treatment (just don't hold your breath waiting) there are surgeons who will do the operation privately (BUPA, PPP, etc.) in the UK, but again they were trained by the greatly more experienced Germans (who all speak english).

I am having my op done in Cologne/Koeln. Dr Biren Desai is the surgeon, normally they try not to operate on over 50's, but as I have the basic physique of someone 10 to 15 years younger (thank you army) he is happy to do me at 60. He is going to install an ESP prosthetic disc in my neck, the disc has 6 degrees of motion which is exactly the same as a normal disc, the structure of the disc allows a return to sporting activity once healed. The basic healing takes 6 weeks however, 6 months is recommended by US Navy surgeons who perform the surgery on injured Navy SEAL's. I have read the paper with post surgical timeline for fitness and they state that a SEAL should be fully fit and functional jumping out of planes, diving and back to full active deployable status at the 6 month point. Anyway, the EPS disc is a 3rd/4th gen disc, compared to the gen 1 they are allowed to use in the US, I also know that the EPS is offered privately in the UK. The disc is constructed using tried nd tested materials: Titanium alloy discs sandwiching a polysomethingorother flexible, compressible core, the titanium discs are coated with a bone growth promoter to speed bone growth into the titanium - yes bone grows into titanium. It takes 2 weeks for 50% bone growth and 6 weeks for full bone growth, meaning that after 6 weeks if you have been careful and not strained anything the disc is actually a part of your body - bionic mate.

Anyway, I arrive at the hospital on monday, I'm just getting over jet lag for a couple of days, Monday they check me over again, tuesday they do the pre-surgery starvation and enema (lovely), wednesday my spinal cord is severed - yes severed, thrilling. I should be compos mentis again probably late thursday, early friday and I shall let you know how it goes.

This is my Doc ===>

I'm not gonna live long enough to read all that shite but thanks anyway.
 
#5
Rather you than me (but that goes for anything involving the spine). Hopefully you wake up like Ravers with a fit bird, a castle and half of Yorkshire (no offence to Mrs Ravers intended, humorous simile etc.)
 
#6
With the SEAL's I should state I have met a former SEAL who was involved in a helo crash when he severely damaged a couple of vertebrae and the disc between. He spent 6 months not being able to wipe his own arrse, effectively paralysed from the neck down while the vertebrae healed after the Doc's put the pieces back together. Then he had an artificial disc put in to take the place of the squished one. Nowadays he walks and talks, suffers some mild arm discomfort but, he had damaged vertebrae which can cause further problems.

With healthy vertebrae it is a standard, routine procedure, the initial approach being anterior, from the front, incisions and approach made are the same as a thyroidectomy, taking around 45 minutes in total leaving a 1 inch scar as a memento. I have actually been following the progress of the procedure over around the last 10 years in which time it has become widely accepted as a gold standard operation to fix iffy discs. For those interested there is the M6 disc (gen 2/3) which has had over 55,000 applications, there are other models too. There are famous international sporting personalities and athletes who have had ADR in Germany prior to it being internationally accepted and they have continued with their careers.

I'm confident, shitting myself but, confident.
 
#8
With healthy vertebrae it is a standard, routine procedure, the initial approach being anterior, from the front, incisions and approach made are the same as a thyroidectomy, taking around 45 minutes in total leaving a 1 inch scar as a memento.
I'm confident, shitting myself but, confident.
From my experience (leg rather than spinal surgery) tell them to make the initial hole as big as possible. They're going to rummage about like a mad woman looking for her shit, they might as well enjoy it.

Same way that the ******* weirdos, when stapling my left leg back together, shaved my right knee. They apparently know what they are doing but they do some weird shit.
 
#9
Best of luck.
I remember lying in a hospital with L3 blown after a rediculously hard landing.
RAF doctor said ' you will never jump again'

Served another 4 years and did 2000 + more jumps.
If you are otherwise healthy, there is a good chance it should go well, good luck again.
 
#10
From my experience (leg rather than spinal surgery) tell them to make the initial hole as big as possible. They're going to rummage about like a mad woman looking for her shit, they might as well enjoy it.

Same way that the ******* weirdos, when stapling my left leg back together, shaved my right knee. They apparently know what they are doing but they do some weird shit.
Maybe for surgical diathermy?
 
#11
Others of you have disc problems so I am going to share this in the hope it may be useful to someone.

I have a herniated, possibly prolapsed (popped), disc in my neck. It is the result of a bad opening during a skydive, I heard it go when my neck whiplashed and I thought for a moment I may be paralysed from the neck down, thankfully not.

The effects on me of the disc material pushing on the nerves is that: I get shite headaches every so often; I have a loss of movement in turning my head side to side; a slight loss of arm movement; loss of muscle strength in my arms; loss of muscle mass in my arms; if I lift my head back in what the Doc calls the breastroke swimmer (also like cycling and motorcycling) position I get severe tingling down my arms and numbness in my fingers.

As of today I am in Germany to visit a surgeon who I selected earlier this year and he is going to perform artificial disc replacement surgery on me. Why Germany and why not in the USA? Well, the Germans invented the procedure back in the 1980's at the Charite Institute in Berlin, they have had over 30 years of developing and perfecting the procedure so that it is considered a standard operation nowadays. As the developers they have taught the world to do the operation. The leading Doc's in Germany have performed the procedure up to 4000 times, whereas the leading light in the US has done it perhaps a couple of hundred times after being taught by the Germans.

In Germany the procedure is available through their health insurance if it is Dr recommended. They do the maths; if you are relatively young and have a slipped disc that is giving you gype so that you have to see the Doc every week, are going to be on pain pill's and receive physio for the next 30 years it is cheaper to pay out 17,000 Euros once to get you fixed once and for all. Simples. The NHS see's it differently, they see the price of the disc kit required for the operation (around 5K) as being too much and they would rather you went for tea and sympathy. That said, the kit is allowed in the UK and extreme cases would receive the treatment (just don't hold your breath waiting) there are surgeons who will do the operation privately (BUPA, PPP, etc.) in the UK, but again they were trained by the greatly more experienced Germans (who all speak english).

I am having my op done in Cologne/Koeln. Dr Biren Desai is the surgeon, normally they try not to operate on over 50's, but as I have the basic physique of someone 10 to 15 years younger (thank you army) he is happy to do me at 60. He is going to install an ESP prosthetic disc in my neck, the disc has 6 degrees of motion which is exactly the same as a normal disc, the structure of the disc allows a return to sporting activity once healed. The basic healing takes 6 weeks however, 6 months is recommended by US Navy surgeons who perform the surgery on injured Navy SEAL's. I have read the paper with post surgical timeline for fitness and they state that a SEAL should be fully fit and functional jumping out of planes, diving and back to full active deployable status at the 6 month point. Anyway, the EPS disc is a 3rd/4th gen disc, compared to the gen 1 they are allowed to use in the US, I also know that the EPS is offered privately in the UK. The disc is constructed using tried nd tested materials: Titanium alloy discs sandwiching a polysomethingorother flexible, compressible core, the titanium discs are coated with a bone growth promoter to speed bone growth into the titanium - yes bone grows into titanium. It takes 2 weeks for 50% bone growth and 6 weeks for full bone growth, meaning that after 6 weeks if you have been careful and not strained anything the disc is actually a part of your body - bionic mate.

Anyway, I arrive at the hospital on monday, I'm just getting over jet lag for a couple of days, Monday they check me over again, tuesday they do the pre-surgery starvation and enema (lovely), wednesday my spinal cord is severed - yes severed, thrilling. I should be compos mentis again probably late thursday, early friday and I shall let you know how it goes.

This is my Doc ===>
Had a similar procedure back in 2008 at Yale-New Haven Hospital performed by a Doctor Yue. Gave me a new lease on life... mind you I always set off the metal detectors at airports.
Good luck, take it easy.
 
#14
I remember watching some UW docs doing a lecture on similar tech they were developing here in Seattle about 10-12 years ago and thinking it would be nice to get a full replacement set.

Here is hoping all goes well for you.
 
#15
Get er done! Wish you the best with the op. I am sure you will be all set to go and will be doing "here, hold mu beer bro!" type of stuff in no time soon! ;)
 
#16
Best of luck mate, I’m 38 and currently looking at my options for surgery to sort out my back. Would be very interested in knowing how your op goes and getting more information. The drs in UK just seem to think pinning my spine in the answer but that seems a cop out and easy for them to then mark me as fixed.
 
#17
Best of luck mate, I’m 38 and currently looking at my options for surgery to sort out my back. Would be very interested in knowing how your op goes and getting more information. The drs in UK just seem to think pinning my spine in the answer but that seems a cop out and easy for them to then mark me as fixed.
What is your back problem?

For either a slipped disc, or a herniated disc the gold standard is having disc replacement - they can do up to three levels of disc. If the disc replacement (ADR) fails there is then the option to either pin, or fuse - with that said 95% of replacements are successful. After the recovery time with the new discs you can resume a normal life including contact sports, as I stated above after 6 months SEAL's can return to full active duty.

The reason they will pin [or fuse] in the UK is due to cost, ADR will not be on the generally approved list with the NHS as the kit a hospital has to by for each operation costs around 5K. There are Doc's in the UK who do the op, probably the best one I know of is Mr.Khai Lam Dr Khai Lam | Orthopedic Surgeon & Consultant at London Bridge Hospital. He has over 10 years experience doing the op's and is a fave with the well to do middle easterners who need their spines sorting. You can go get a consult with him, or send an MRI/x-ray to my bloke by post and he will email you back with his opinion free of charge.

There are several of the top one's who do free of charge MRI/x-ray evaluations. I will dig out the addresses when I get home in a few weeks.

The way I view it regarding the cost is that at 60 I am paying 17K to live a more comfortable, painfree, life for the next 10 to 20 years. So the per annum cost is not too bad really when you look at it like that. I am paying 17K, if I were to need a second, or third disc at the same time every additional disc would cost around 6K - 7K as the cost for OR, surgeon, aneasthetist, etc has already been met. ie. if I were having a 2 disc replacement op it would be 23K - 24K.

Any questions ask away, I have been looking at this for a fair few years now and know who the good players are, who the bad players are, and which discs are preferable and which discs have been made out of recycled beer cans in a shed by Bulgarian gypsie's.
 
#18
Best of luck mate. I hope you recover well and that the op gives you a bit more freedom and quality of life.
 
#19
Well I have been in the hospital since yesterday afternoon, I have been sucked dry of blood, weighed measured, prodded, poked and re-MRI'ed.

Just waiting for the final chat with the surgeon this afternoon and should be going under the knife at sparrow fart tomorrow if he is happy. First day I spend in ICU as a just in case because it was a neck op and they do not want an unnoticed throat swelling choking me to death. I should be out of ICU on thursday.

As to the scope of the operation: Here with me as fellow patients there is a Kiwi who has flown over to get two lumbar discs replaced due to sports injuries. There is also a guy from Canadashire who had two cervical discs replaced last week and two days ago had three lumbar discs replaced - he was out of ICU yesterday and on bed rest, today he got up and did ablutions, pain (to be expected) but he is happy so far. He told me that the neck op he had last week was a doddle and he was up and moving more or less immediately he was out of ICU.
 

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