Susie - Columbus, GA

When non-surgical treatment failed to ease Susie's excruciating neck pain, her spine surgeon recommended cervical artificial disc replacement with the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc. Today, Susie's thrilled she can "do it all" again.


One morning, Susie woke up with what felt like a "crick" in her neck. Thinking she had just slept wrong or perhaps hauled a few too many heavy grocery bags the day before, Susie didn't pay her neck pain much mind and continued to go about her business as usual.

Within three days, however, Susie's neck pain had become so sharp and unrelenting she was having a difficult time sleeping. By now, the pain also was radiating down her left arm, and she started noticing that her hand was numb. "The pain was killing me," she recalls, "It got so bad that I couldn't carry anything with that hand, and the only way I could get any relief was to hold my arm up over my head.

"I thought I knew what pain was; after all, I've given birth twice. But this was different — I'd never experienced anything like it before. I felt like I was about to die."

Thinking her neck pain was muscle or soft tissue-related, Susie tried to manage her pain with over-the-counter pain relievers, as well as a muscle relaxer later prescribed by her family physician. "Unfortunately, they didn't work," Susie admits. "And eventually, the pain started interfering with my work and my family life. I was having a hard time sleeping so I wasn't getting any rest, and the pain medication affected my ability to concentrate. At work, it hurt my neck just to look up at the computer screen, and there was so much pain and numbness in my left arm and hand I couldn't even type.

"As for my family — my husband and two grown sons — I wasn't able to do much of anything with them. I stopped fixing dinner; I just went home each day and lay in bed. It was a very scary time, both for me and for them, because we didn't know what was going on. One of my sons even asked if I had cancer."

When Susie's neck pain and other symptoms failed to improve over time, she made an appointment with spine surgeon Dr. J. Kenneth Burkus of the Hughston Orthopaedic Hospital in Columbus, GA. Having worked in the hospital as an executive assistant for more than 22 years, Susie knew conservative treatment methods — such as pain relievers, rest and physical therapy — were effective in relieving most instances of back and neck pain. However, she also was aware that when numbness and/or muscle weakness become an issue, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible. These symptoms are common indicators that the spinal cord or spinal nerves are being compromised in some way — pressure from a herniated disc or bone spur, for example — and waiting to seek treatment could potentially result in delayed healing or permanent nerve damage.

"The day I went in for my appointment, I was in such excruciating pain," Susie recalls. "Actually, it became so intense as I walked in the door that I fell down. I didn't know what was happening. I was hurting so badly I thought I was dying, and all I could do was cry."

To diagnose Susie's condition, Dr. Burkus ordered an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, which showed almost complete deterioration of the disc between the C5/C6 vertebrae of her neck (the cervical spine), as well as a bone spur.

Based on the results of her diagnostic tests, her overall physical health and the fact that conservative care had failed to offer her any lasting relief, Dr. Burkus recommended that Susie consider spine surgery as a treatment option, and invited her to enroll in the clinical trial for the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc, an artificial disc with a ball-and-trough design that has the potential to restore disc height and preserve neck mobility. As a study participant, Susie had a 50/50 chance of either receiving the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc or undergoing traditional spinal fusion. "When Dr. Burkus said I needed surgery and that I'd be a good candidate for the PRESTIGE® Disc, I said I was willing if there was a chance it would give me some relief. Working at the same hospital, I'd known him a long time, was confident in his skills as a spine surgeon and had heard he was experienced with the device. I was in so much pain, I couldn't continue to function the way I was going — I was ready to do something."

While exploring her surgical options with Dr. Burkus, Susie weighed the possible benefits of the technology with the potential risks, which include tissue reaction; the development of new pain, radiculopathy, or myelopathy; and/or the formation of bone that could reduce spinal mobility or result in fusion, either at the treated spinal level or an adjacent level. Additional risks include the potential for anatomical or technical difficulties with product components, sizing issues, and early or late loosening of the components. For more information, please click here for links to important safety information or the patient information brochure which contains the complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information.

To replace Susie's damaged intervertebral disc with the PRESTIGE® Disc — a procedure called cervical artificial disc replacement — Dr. Burkus made a small incision in the front of her neck and created a narrow opening through the muscles for access to the cervical vertebrae. He then removed the damaged disc and bone spur material pressing on Susie's spinal nerves and causing her painful symptoms, inserted the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc and then closed the incision. The procedure was performed under general anesthesia, and Susie was released from the hospital the day after her surgery. "When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was that I had a soft collar around my neck," Susie says. "Then I realized my neck pain was gone."

For the first seven days of her recovery, Susie continued to wear her cervical collar, which provided extra stability while her treated vertebral segment healed. After two weeks, she was cleared to return to work on a part-time basis; by the third week, she was back in the office full-time. "At first, I tried not to move my neck too much because I was afraid I might hurt myself or that the device might slip out of place," Susie admits. "But after a few weeks, I was fully mobile and a lot more confident about it. I could turn around, look up, down, every which way.

"And at all my follow-up visits, which involved taking x-rays as I looked up, down and side to side, everything looked great. The PRESTIGE® Disc was — and still is — in place."

Today, Susie says, "Life is completely back to normal. I can do yard work again, and water-ski, too. My parents have a lake house, and we like to go up there a lot. I also like to walk, swim and go shopping — I've always liked to be able to just get up and go, and carry all my bags — and my husband and I shoot pistols for target practice. When I was in such excruciating pain, I couldn't do any of that; I could hardly even walk. But now I can do it all.

"Looking back, I think of all the people who arrive here at the hospital in a similar state, and some of them have been hurting and dealing with the pain for so long. I'd recommend the PRESTIGE® Disc to any one of them whose doctor felt it was right for them. As far as my surgery is concerned, I couldn't ask for better results."

To learn more about the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc, visit

Important Safety InformationImportant Safety Information

IRN 11517-1.1-04

It is important that you discuss the potential risks, complications and benefits of the PRESTIGE® Cervical Disc with your doctor prior to receiving treatment, and that you rely on your doctor's judgment. Only your doctor can determine whether you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.

As you read this please keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, or nerve damage are some of the potential adverse risks of spinal surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results, and other important medical information.

Published: July 30, 2007
Updated: June 04, 2010