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Man recovering after disc replacement

Man recovering after disc replacement

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Every move Timothy Breitschopf made was painful until a few days ago.

At 37, severe lower back pain prevented him from doing many things, including picking up and holding his 4-year-old daughter.

For more than six years, Breit-schopf, a maintenance worker, had lived with the constant struggle of excruciating pain. He went from doctor to doctor and tried every treatment offered with no relief.

But now, Breitschopf said, he has hope the pain will end.

Last week, the College Station resident underwent the region's first artificial disc replacement surgery to treat the pain in his lower back. The new procedure at College Station Medical Center was performed by neurosurgeon Dr. Robert Levinthal.

"He's doing good, and he's up and walking," said Lisa Breit-schopf on the afternoon after her husband's 2 1/2-hour surgery. "He's in some pain, but I think it's just the surgical pain. We are hoping that this will be the answer. We were at a point where we were out of options."

Breitschopf's doctors said they're hopeful that his recovery will be quick. He's expected to be active within a week and to achieve complete recovery in three to six months.

New technology recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration was used in Breitschopf's operation. Levinthal removed a portion of Breitschopf's spine and replaced it with a Charite Artificial Disc. The disc, which was developed in Germany and approved for use in the United States last year, is made of two metal endplates and a movable, high-density plastic core that is designed to preserve motion.

Traditionally, spinal fusion surgery is used to treat the same problem, but such a method limits motion, Levinthal said. The artificial disc relieves pain and preserves motion, limits stress to other portions of the spine and reduces the chance of future surgeries, experts said.

Levinthal, who underwent special training to perform the new procedure, said this is the first of what he hopes to be more artificial disc replacement surgeries performed locally.

"It's exciting to bring this technology to the community," he said. "The process is evolving, and new devices are being approved by other companies, so this is still changing."

•Laura Hensley's e-mail address is laura.hensley@theeagle.com.

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