It has been 5 years since my dual cervical ADR C5-C7 and I have no regrets spending the money for this surgery! I had cervical stenosis that was affecting the quality of my life with frequent headaches, numbness in my left arm, and endless muscle spasm and pain in my shoulders. The surgery was not available in the US and was not covered by my insurance, and I cashed in a pension to get this surgery. I had several friends go the fusion route and they lost a lot of mobility. Since I still felt otherwise young at 52 I wanted to continue living an active life style. I found the ADR option online. I was skeptical at the time, but I did my research. I could get one disc replaced in the US, but not two. Also, the "expert" I found in Baltimore had only done about 50 replacements, and Dr Bertagnoli's team had done thousands. The disc they used in the US was a couple generations behind the newer disc technology they were using in Germany. I called several of the references and talked to a professional athlete and 2 EMTs (all from the US) that had surgery with Dr Bertagnoli who had nothing but wonderful things to say. The replacement discs I have are made in Houston, so I talked to them as well to make sure I understood how they work. It is similar to some of the hip transplants, which were also probably done in Germany way before they were approved by the FDA. There are two metal pieces that are mounted in the vertebrae and a hard plastic "disc" in between which allows movement. I imagine the technology has continued to evolve.

My husband and I went to Germany, and yes it was scary, especially when we arrived at the tiny town of Bogen and saw how small the hospital was. All I can say is I wish we had hospitals in the US like that! Instead of spending money on fancy foyers and fountains, they spend it on patient care. There were little frills, but it was exceptionally clean, the beds were so comfortable, and everyone was respectful and caring. I was there about 4 or 5 days and then moved to a hotel to heal a little more. The only advice I would give is try to stay at least 3 weeks to heal. 2 weeks wasn't quite long enough for me and I had a tough plane ride back to the US and felt like I should have stayed longer.

Today, I feel like I have good mobility in my neck. I am an avid skier and it will get a little sore after a day on the mountain, but it isn't enough to prevent me from going. Other than that, I mostly walk and hike and I go to yoga about 3 times a week. I travel a lot more than I used to and I hardly ever get migraine headaches any more. For pain, I went from taking heavy duty pain killers pre-surgery to only taking baby aspirin today and an occasional massage and heating pad. The only thing that bothers me is sitting at the computer for long periods of time, but maybe that is because I want to go outside and play! I am fine in a car driving all day as long as I can adjust the headrest so my head isn't pushed forward.

I would highly recommend the ADR surgery over fusion if you have more than one disc to worry about. The ADR allows your neck to move more naturally. The entire staff is wonderful and efficient at getting you through the process even though they are on a different continent. Thank you to the Pro-Spine staff for making my surgery a success.

Judy Dain
Arvada, CO