M6 Artificial Disc Replacement

Posted on April 13, 2013 by sonjabarrie


Anatomy of an M6 Artificial Disc

Well here I am between the devil and the deep blue sea, between a rock and a hard place, between…… you get the idea.  Anyone who has been reading this blog knows I have been battling back pain and Degenerative Disc Disease for a canny few years now.

My last MRI was just 9/13/2012 and resulted in 2 sets of steroid injections, the second set gave me absolute relief for 7 whole days.  Anyone who has back pain knows to be completely free of it is one of the most amazing things ever.  And I do mean free, nothing nada, no twinges, no ache, no sharp pains, NO PAIN KILLERS!

Shame it was for just 7 days before it started to wear off.  I had a good Christmas as the shots were working and slowly reducing the pain which in and of its self is a miracle ;o) When the pain slowly started to come back it was disappointing but not unexpected.

Now though it is back to full strength and brings me to tears at times.  Having to work all day lying flat on my back in bed is frustrating in the extreme.  I can still work 8 to 10 hours this way but constantly moving your arms on the keyboard and mouse takes its toll, the back still complains but nothing like when sitting.

I kept hoping (futilely I know) that it would resolve itself.  Who am I kidding, DDD just gets worse not better, it’s not going to spontaneously become like a 20 year old again (neither is the rest of me, darn!)

So what to do?  I’m a research nut, I won’t do anything till I have researched it to the point of analysis paralysis and information overload. In this instance though I feel it is justified.

My dear sweet long suffering hubby came up with artificial disk replacement about a year ago.  Until then we never even knew such a thing existed and none of my orthopedic or neurological surgeons even mentioned it.  They only seem to know one word: fusion!

After researching that puppy the answer was easy: NO.

But ADR (artificial disk replacement) seemed promising. The FDA here in the US of A are really slow (read under staffed) at getting stuff approved, hence we are years behind Europe in a lot of medical procedures and medicines.  Now, being English, and having moved here 13 years ago, I am lucky enough to be able to see both sides of the coin. ADR has been performed in Europe for over 20 years now so some of the top surgeons in the world have done 1000 or more of these ops.  They know what they are doing.

In the US though, although the FDA have approved certain ADR devices they have limited it to 1 disc replacement only (in Europe they have done as many as 7 in one go) and there are very few surgeons who have actually performed the op, ergo they do not have the experience, ergo the failure rate is high.

The next hurdle, should you actually be able to find a surgeon here with a good reputation and some experience, is your insurance. There are very few insurance providers who will cover the op.  They will cover a fusion, if you are lucky (or not) but otherwise it is out of your own pocket.

Here in the US back surgery is done on an outpatient basis, both my laminectomies were done in the morning and I was home in the afternoon, throwing up, unable to move, or even to sit on the toilet without help. And the US wonders why they are 48th in the world for PREVENTABLE deaths!

I digress, nothing new there then.

In Europe you stay in the hospital until you are able to look after yourself, it’s still nice to have help at home but I know some who have got to Europe to get the ADR surgery on their own and flew back in one piece, on their own.  They were in hospital long enough to make sure there were no complications, they could actually sit on the toilet by themselves, etc.

So what is my dilemma, well it’s not where to get the surgery, Europe is the only answer if I don’t want fusion, and I don’t!

So my dilemma is… er can’t think of one.  Guess I’m just scared and trying to come up with excuses.  I have at least 20 to 30 years left in me and the thought of spending them not only in pain but unable to actually live my life fills me with dread. But then so is major surgery at my time of life, at 60 I am no spring chicken and I know there are those who have had the surgery older than me and have never looked back (every pun intended) but…

So here is where I am at the moment, I’ve done the research, picked the surgeon, know the country I am going to, sent in most of the forms.  I am now just waiting to hear from the surgeon to know if I am a candidate.

That’s the best and the worst part, am I a candidate?  I know surgeons here who will always tell you they can help you even if they can’t and the web abounds with stories from patients. I don’t know that they are more ethical over there but they don’t take everybody.

So now I wait with fingers crossed that they can do something for me.  If the injections had not worked so well at reducing the inflammation of the discs and therefore my pain I might not be considering this, but if they can take out my inflamed, bulging, herniated discs and make me pain free, I am willing to go through anything.

I just want to know that I can actually do it.


If you are not squeamish here’s a video of the actual surgery.  They are inserting a different type of ADR (the Pro-Disk not the M6) but the surgery is the same. It’s graphic because it is real surgery but fascinating (to my addled brain) if you like that sort of thing ;o)




image attributed to: http://www.germanspinespecialists.com/m6_technology.html

10 Responses to “M6 Artificial Disc Replacement”

  1. Gabe

    - 16th Nov, 17 12:11pm

    I had two prodiscs installed by Bertagnoli a year ago n I feel great I was bed bound before 

    Reply to this comment

  2. Michael Jones

    - 28th Apr, 17 06:04pm

    What did you know what you actually had operated on and where you went for your surgery?

    Reply to this comment

  3. Sue Feenstra

    - 21st Apr, 17 04:04pm


    just wondering how you are going? I'm 48 and read exactly like you, my only peace is lying down

    so the surgeon says fusion is my only option, after cortisones nerve ablation etc 

    but I came across the M6 article ……. and at that point I hand over to you if you have advice? 

    Experience? Thoughts?

    i realise it's a while ago, but in someways that's better 

    thanks in advance 


    Reply to this comment

    • Greg

      - 1st Jun, 17 01:06pm

      I too am at that ready to leap off a tall building to get ADR but honestly know only what little is found on the Internet. My GP says he has seen six or eight patients all with failed ADR, presumably done here in the states which means very little. My father in law is a cardiologist and has said for years that medical practice in the US has been in decline got over 30 years and many countries and that it is second rate at best, from an overall perspective. I now believe him and have concluded that greed plays a big role in this as doctors would rather pad their own pockets than invest in new facilities, better equipment and continual training. As a result, the only recommendation one finds here is to default to a procedure that was state of the art 50-60 years ago. Yes, you must fuse your spine they say, probably so you will return five years later to fuse the next vertebrate and five years later, the next one and so on.

      cant find anything bad on lumbar ADR in the European market however and really can't find anything on patients 5-10 years post ADR.  Do you know what the patients are saying about it? Glad they did it, pain is gone, mostly gone or about the same? Are you considering going to Europe for the procedure and what will convince or prevent you assuming the doctors there accept you as a candidate? Hope you find peace of mind and a solution that improves your outlook. I'm ready to give it a go if they will accept me but want to perform my due diligence. 

      Reply to this comment

  4. Cindy Bennett

    - 21st Feb, 17 05:02pm

    So does the FFA have the m6 adr approved ? Insurance is saying no. But if it is then they will cover it. How do I find out? 

    Reply to this comment

  5. J Riv

    - 28th Dec, 16 08:12pm

    Don't do it. It's an artificial item in your body that your bodycan react to with inflammation and scar tissue. If it doesn't immediately react, over time the plastic and metal ions release out into the spine and inflammation will occur there, causing more pain. Sure, you might be OK for even a couple of years, but soon enough, you will be in agony. I'm sorry to write this but I just had an exploratory surgery 2.5 years post M6 cervical and I have scarred across the level on the right side mostly (right side anterior approach) out to my epidural space, joining my spinal cord to my spinal column with scar tissue. DON'T DO IT. You may feel good for months or even a few years, but long term this causes huge issues.

    Reply to this comment

    • Peachy

      - 3rd Apr, 17 10:04pm

      J Riv,

      I'm having issues also. What kind of exploratory surgery did you have and where did you have that done? Is that how they found the tethering?

      thanks for your reply….

      Reply to this comment

  6. Jim Elms

    - 21st Nov, 14 04:11pm

    Just happened to run across this blog. How did your surgery go? I'm looking for a surgeon for ADR. Do you have recommendations?

    Reply to this comment

    • sonjabarrie (author comment)

      - 11th Feb, 17 01:02pm

      Hi Jim, sorry I didn't reply earlier, with a new back I am so busy doing other things I haven't had time to visit my blog!

      This is probably too late for you but my surgery was fantastic and I am still fantastic (well my back is 😉 it's now going on 4 years and I cannot thank Dr Clavel and Quiron Hospital enough.  They gave me my life back.

      I work at a desk 8+ hours a day, hike, drive, everything.  The only thing different is we now have electric bikes, they are power assist so I still have to exercise to ride them but going up hills no longer puts such a strain on my back.

      Yes I get back aches from time to time but working the hours I do and being 63 years old I think I can safely say that those aches come as no surprise! Would I do it again? In a heart beat. If you see the videos of me before the surgery you can see I was like a 90 year old woman, the pain was driving me to suicide, and it was only getting worse.

      You can see the pictures of Dr Clavel and his team in the side bar and I believe if you click on the picture it takes you to their site. I can't rate them highly enough, they would be my recomendation but you need to interview all of them, those in Germany and England, they are all well qualified and you need to make sure whomever you get fills you with confidence.

      Please let us know who you chose and how you got on.

      Reply to this comment

      • Greg

        - 1st Jun, 17 02:06pm

        Can you explain how or why you selected dr Clavel over drs Ritter or Bergatoni? What are your thoughts about the previous posts on the need to remove the M6 due to this poor persons body rejecting the implant? Obviously, an inherent risk but is that the exception or is it somewhat common?

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