Sentara First Region to Introduce Surgical Procedure that Helps Neck Pain
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Sentara First Region to Introduce Surgical Procedure that Helps Neck Pain 

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NORFOLK, Va.,  - October 12, 2007 - Sentara Norfolk General Hospital will become the region’s first facility to implant a new artificial disc recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating degenerative cervical disc disease. Joseph L. Koen, M.D., a local neurosurgeon, is among the first physicians in the country to implant the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc.

“The approval of the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc represents a major step forward in neurosurgery,” says Dr. Koen. “This new device may lead to better outcomes for the rest of the spine and can vastly improve the lives of people in our community who suffer with cervical disk problems.”

Mike Woodyard works for Norfolk Naval Shipyard repairing ships. His spine problems date back to the eighties, where a serious of injuries has lead to increasing pain and weakness in his arms. A recent incident led Woodyard to Dr. Koen, where he was faced with an important decision.

“I had to make a decision about whether this was going to happen again, or if I was going to do something to fix the problem,” Woodyard said. “My job requires that I have arm strength and I was scared that the next accident would leave me permanently injured.”

On Tuesday, October 16, Woodyard will be the first patient in the area to undergo surgery to implant the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc.

The surgically implanted, stainless steel PRESTIGE® disc is intended to relieve neck pain and stiffness, and the occasional weakness or numbness in the arms, due to a pinched nerve. This can be caused by a herniated disc between cervical vertebrae or a bone spur on a vertebra, both of which can push on the nerve root.

The PRESTIGE® disc, which became available for treatment in August, mimics the natural motion of the neck through a "ball-and-trough" design that allows for a variable center of rotation. It is inserted through a 1½-inch incision in the front of the neck.

“This is groundbreaking medicine and it has tremendous implications for people who suffer from cervical spine problems,” adds Dr. Koen. “This procedure offers an alternative to fusion – with improved pain relief and maintaining the normal range of motion.”

Currently, the most common form of surgery for treating cervical degenerative disc disease is cervical spine fusion. Spinal fusion has, until now, been one of only the only treatment options available for the estimated 200,000 Americans per year who seek surgical treatment for degenerative cervical disc disease. Fusion involves removing a troubled disc and bolting the vertebrae together with steel plates to restrict motion.

In a two-year clinical trial ending in August 2004, patients receiving the PRESTIGE® disc experienced statistically significant outcomes 24 months after surgery in an index that measures how much a patient’s neck pain affects the ability to manage everyday activities, according to Medtronic, the company that manufactures the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc. Patients also returned to work an average of 26 percent faster than those receiving spinal fusion. The trial involved 541 patients enrolled at 32 sites across the country. 



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