HydraFlex NAS -- Does anyone have one implanted?

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Tirzah
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Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2284
   Posted 11/19/2008 9:06 PM (GMT -7)   
Does anyone have one of these implanted or has anyone talked to a surgeon about an implant?

I've been reading about them on-line & they sound like a good alternative to a full diskectomy (which is what my doctors are otherwise recommending). Unfortunately, they're still in the final phase of getting FDA approval so there are only a few surgeons who are approved to do the implants. Study participants at this phase definitely DO get the implant (no tricks with control groups getting fusion or some other horrid alternative) so that is a major bonus, but I'm still hoping for more information if possible.

The main things I'm wondering about are what the procedure was like & how the recovery went & how helpful it has been. I always figure the surgeons try to make things seem as rosy as possible & with the trials still on-going it's not like there's a lot of people to talk to. Also, none of the study sites are near my home so I would have to fly out to any of the sites. If anyone has any experience with a particular site, I would really appreciate any guidance.

Thanks so much!
frances

PAlady
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Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 11/19/2008 11:30 PM (GMT -7)   
Frances,
I don't know anything about this. What sites do the implant? I've been to the University of Pittsburgh, but I don't know if they're doing this. And I've known several people who have gone to Cleveland Clinic, but not for this implant - this is the first I've heard of it.

What does it do? Is it a replacement disk?

PaLady

Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2284
   Posted 11/20/2008 12:10 PM (GMT -7)   
It doesn't replace the whole disc, just the nucleus (the squishy part in the middle). It used to be that they had to replace the whole disc which meant some type of metal or plastic thing plus a squishy middle part. Now they've found that in people who have their disc degenerated to the point where the nucleus is leaking out, but where the disc has not completely collapsed in on itself that they can leave your own disc minus the nucleus in there. They suck out the nucleus & then put this inflatable pouch into your disc. Then the inflatable part is filled with gel. Supposedly, it will prevent the stress that is normally inflicted on the surrounding discs after a full disc replacement. As I understand it, a lot of times the discs above or below a replacement disc can end up getting more deteriorated than if the real disc was left in. This is supposed to correct that issue b/c you still have the same shell of your disc, it just has a new inside.

They have been doing this in other countries for some years now with incredible success (nothing's perfect, but this is supposedly leaps & bounds better than the alternatives). My favorite part is that there is hardly any cutting at all. Because of a congenital condition, my injured muscles don't ever heal so I try to avoid any damage to them, including surgery. For some people the surgeons can just go in through the abdomen & weave their way around muscles & organs to get to the damaged disc. Now it is in the final stages of FDA trial here in the U.S.

The places that trained to participate in the FDA trial are:
Greater Baltimore Neurosurgical Associates
Rocky Mountain Spine Arthroplasty Specialists
The Center for Diseases & Surgery of the Spine
The Spine Institute at St. John's Health Center

Needless to say, it all sounds pretty exciting to me. I wish there were more places doing it right now, but I guess they do have to have some controls in order to make sure they get valid study results. :(
Hopefully in another year or so it will be available everywhere, but for one I can't wait that long b/c I need to get well to get back to work and for two who knows whether or not the evil insurance companies will cover it right away so I figure better to get in the study group so I can get mine for free.

PAlady
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Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 6795
   Posted 11/20/2008 12:52 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks for the info. There are so many experimental procedures it's impossible to know what's going to succeed, but some will end up being the "next generation" of procedures. My DDD was so severe that I knew I'd eventually need the fusion, so I went ahead with it. But then I'm in my upper 50's, so I know that made a difference.

I know there's a Dr. Cho at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh who has a website and he does all sorts of minimally invasive procedures. I've heard people come from all over the world to see him, but then he screens his applicants so someone like me with severe DDD would never be in his studies. You might want to search out his website and see what trials he's doing.

Anyway, I hope you find something that works for you!

PaLady

Tirzah
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 2284
   Posted 11/20/2008 2:25 PM (GMT -7)   
Thanks, PALady!

I will check him out. The study is age limited & you have to have a certain amount of space in order for them to be able to get the gel pouch into the center of the disc, so it's definitely not for everybody. I'm sure you made the right decision for you, but I'm only 31 and have heard so many horror stories about people who have had fusions or total disc replacements & have ended up then getting even more problems. Plus, the discs don't last forever & my NS told me (after I really pressed him about it) that they would likely have to be replaced at least a time or two over my lifetime.

I have looked into other trials in the past & have been disqualified b/c of having Chiari and a crainiotomy/laminectomy to correct that. Maybe that was a blessing b/c this could be the best option of all. :)

Thanks again for the tip!
frances
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