Helen Cerreta hasn’t got time for pain since receiving this implant at MidHudson Regional Hospital.
By Debra Bresnan
Two years ago, when Wappingers Falls resident Helen Cerreta, 48, first experienced pain in her back and neck, she thought she had just moved or slept the wrong way. Hot and cold compresses didn’t help. Physical therapy made her pain worse. In the summer of 2016, her doctor ordered an MRI. “I had numbness and weakness in my right [dominant] hand, and pain went from my neck to my elbow and fingers. When the doctor said I needed surgery, I freaked out a little bit. I was scared,” she recalls.
A few months later, Cerreta’s husband, Michael, suggested she pursue his friend’s suggestion to see Yigal Samocha, MD, a spine surgeon at MidHudson Regional Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). At her first appointment, Dr. Samocha said she had arthritis and that there was very little disc space left between the vertebrae in her neck. “He explained in a way that was easy to understand, and he was honest with me. He said surgery was the best option to improve my pain and functioning,” Cerreta says.
Cerreta had been suffering for quite awhile, and normal daily activities were difficult. Her neck pain and the discomfort and numbness in her hands caused her to drop things. She was clumsy and had trouble gripping objects. Arthritis and degeneration were causing compression on her nerves and spinal cord, which resulted in her symptoms.
A second MRI confirmed Dr. Samocha’s diagnosis, and he recommended an innovative surgical disc implant, the Mobi-C (Mobile Core) artificial cervical disc. The Mobi-C is an alternative to fusion, which puts more strain on the discs at levels above and below the fusion, often leading to more surgeries and future problems. Mobi-C helps mitigate that risk by preserving motion and reducing strain on neighboring discs.
“Mobi-C is one of six types of replacement surgeries available, and the only one approved for two levels,” Dr. Samocha says. “In my opinion, it’s the best one because the core of the prosthesis moves as the neck moves. It mimics the body’s motion, offering better results for patients.”
Dr. Samocha has a lot of experience performing this type of disc-replacement surgery. Early in his practice, he was involved in studies and trials using the Mobi-C and is among a select group of U.S. surgeons invited to attend the Mobi-C master’s course in France, where he studied with the designers of the device.
The Mobi-C offers patients lower rates of complication, faster return to mobilization and normal daily activities, and fewer future problems.
Says, Dr. Samocha, “Mobi-C could easily become the gold standard for one- to two-level disc problems, and its use is expanding. It’s one of the tools in our toolbox, and surgeons have to know which one to use when, considering what works best for each individual patient.”
Cerreta’s surgery took about two hours, and she stayed overnight at MidHudson Regional Hospital so that Dr. Samocha and his team could monitor her recovery. “It was a very good experience,” she says. “When I went home the next day, Dr. Samocha told me I could do anything I felt comfortable doing.” At her two-week follow-up appointment, her scar had healed beautifully. “He did a fabulous job at that, too, placing the incision in the crease of my neck.”
As a busy stay-at-home mom of teens Lucas and Leana, Helen loves to garden and enjoys cooking, baking and reading.
“Now I’m back to being myself,” says Cerreta. “Before my surgery, everything I did was associated with pain. Even when completing a simple task, like folding a T-shirt, I was compensating with other parts of my body. Now I can garden without pain, and I can knead bread without feeling like my arm is falling off. When you have pain, you don’t know how stiff you are, and the longer you wait to seek help, you run the risk of nerve damage. I tell people: ‘Don’t wait too long. There’s a cure, and my quality of life is so much better.’ I’m 120 percent fine.”
How Does The Mobi-C Work?
The Mobi-C has three parts: two metal plates and a domed polyethylene insert in-between. The insert slides and rotates across and over the bottom plate, allowing movement front to back and left to right. Two tabs on the bottom plate secure the insert’s position and are designed to control movement.
The Mobi-C bends and rotates with muscle and vertebrae movement. It fits entirely within the disc space and needs no keels or screws to secure its position between the vertebrae. The FDA requires surgeons to complete rigorous training prior to implanting the Mobi-C.
ORTHOPEDIC SERVICES AT WMCHEALTH
Westchester Medical Center
Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital 914.789.2700
MidHudson Regional Hospital 845.431.8274
HealthAlliance Hospital: Mary’s Avenue Campus 845.334.3130
Good Samaritan Hospital 845.368.5884
Featured Image by Michael Polito