Disc replacement procedure relieves pain and restores mobility

Dr. Nitin Khanna, a spine surgeon at Orthopaedic Specialists of Northwest Indiana in Munster, holds  a MOBI-C replacement disc that restored full mobility to patient Colleen McDermott. 

PROVIDED

When Colleen McDermott woke up one morning in February 2016 with pain shooting down her arm, she knew something was seriously wrong.

“This wasn’t like how your arm feels if you sleep on it,” she said. “The pain was really intense. And I had a throbbing headache worse than I had ever experienced.”

She also experienced problems with mobility in her neck and realized she had a serious orthopedic problem.

The Merrillville nurse scheduled an appointment with Dr. Nitin Khanna, a spine surgeon at Orthopaedic Specialists of Northwest Indiana in Munster. Medical tests in March revealed the source of pain to be a fractured cervical disc in her neck, pinching nerves and causing pain in her arm and head.

“Dr. Khanna explained that the disc could not be repaired or saved,” she said. “I needed to have surgery to replace the disc.”

She had two options: standard fusion, which would cause a permanent loss of some mobility in her neck, or a procedure referred to as MOBI-C disc replacement.

“The MOBI-C is a relatively new procedure here in the States,” Khanna said. “A new disc constructed out of metal and plastic replaces the fractured disc. The benefit is that the patient does not lose any mobility. Once the healing and physical therapy are complete, the patient will regain the mobility lost when the disc fractured.”

McDermott chose the disc replacement, hoping to regain all mobility.

“I was nervous about having someone perform surgery on my neck,” she said. “But Dr. Khanna did a great job of explaining the procedure and the follow-up. I knew that fusions result in a certain loss of mobility, and I wanted to keep my movement.”

In April, Khanna replaced her fractured disc with the MOBI-C replacement system. Relief was immediate.

“When I woke up in the recovery room, my arm no longer hurt,” she said. “The nerve was no longer being pinched, and the pain was gone. It was amazing.”

“Colleen’s surgery went very well,” Khanna said. “The procedure is an excellent alternative for cervical fractures. The MOBI-C not only restores mobility, it provides a stable base to promote stability to the cervical area of the spine.”

The MOBI-C procedure was first used by French surgeons in 2004. After six years of study, the Food and Drug Administration approved it in 2013. Since then, Khanna has performed 40 such surgeries.

“The procedure is not for every patient,” he said. “We have to conduct a series of tests that usually include X-rays, CT scans and an MRI. Then we tailor a plan for that patient’s situation.”

He stresses the importance of customizing a treatment plan for each patient.

“Sometimes people come in and want a specific procedure because they have heard good things about it,” he said. “But everyone is different, and an individual’s test results and medical history play a major role in determining the course of treatment.”

McDermott, 48, is back to normal with no movement restrictions.

“You never realize what the words ‘normal life’ mean until you lose it,” she said. “Now I’m back to work, back to doing the things I enjoy, back to normal. And I can tell you, that’s priceless.”

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