Mitchell Weiss, M.D.

Monmouth Medical Center Physician Puts Ultimate Trust in Colleague’s Hands

It was 2008 and Monmouth Medical Center was in the planning stages of an ambitious Operating Room (OR) transformation project. The concept was to build two brand new state-of-the-art operating theaters for neurosurgery and spine surgery. They would incorporate all of the latest technology, allowing Monmouth's expert surgeons to perform ever more complex and sophisticated surgery. As the plans were unfolding, Monmouth's Chairman of Radiation Oncology began suffering from some very uncomfortable neurological symptoms.

Mitchell Weiss, M.D., began experiencing severe pain in his shoulder blade area extending into his arm through his fingers, causing significant weakness in his right arm. Because of the weakness he was experiencing, he needed to be treated quickly. Dr. Weiss turned to his colleague David Estin, M.D., FACS, a board-certified neurosurgeon who is also Surgical Director of the David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center at Monmouth Medical Center.

"My friends and family urged me to find a surgeon in New York, but I explained that Monmouth Medical Center has leading technology and New York City-trained surgeons on staff, and I could get the same excellent level of care close to home," said Dr. Weiss. The initial "curbside" conversation in the hospital hallway where Dr. Weiss told Dr. Estin about his neck and right arm pain turned into a formal consultation. He was diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck, causing impingement of a cervical nerve root.

According to Dr. Weiss, it was comforting to have firsthand knowledge of Dr. Estin's skills. "Having worked with him, I knew Dr. Estin was an excellent surgeon who had excellent training and was part of the Columbia University group of neurosurgeons," he said, noting that the Neurosurgery Program at Monmouth was established through a partnership with the Department of Neurological Surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York.

Dr. Estin discussed the surgical options with Dr. Weiss. One option involved removal of the herniated disk and fusion of the disk space. This option works well but can limit the patient's range of motion in his neck. The other option was artificial disk replacement, where the disk is removed and replaced with an artificial disk. "Artificial disk replacement is a novel treatment for cervical herniated disks, which allows for a more normal movement of the spine following surgery," said Dr. Estin. "It may decrease the pain level and accelerate the recovery with a shorter time to return to full activity." Dr. Weiss opted for the artificial disk.

At surgery, Dr. Estin removed the damaged disk and implanted an artificial disk using a cutting-edge device – the PrestigeTM stainless steel disk, which maintains spine motion and avoids the need for a fusion.

“My very first memory in recovery was that the pain was completely gone – absolutely no pain at all,” said Dr. Weiss.

Dr. Weiss’s strength quickly returned to normal, and although he was out of work for a couple of weeks, he says he felt well enough to return within two days.

“After surgery was the best I had felt in a long time, and what was most impressive was how minimal of an impact the surgery had on my life as a whole,” Dr. Weiss said. “I could have gone anywhere for my surgery, but I chose Dr. Estin because I knew I could trust him.”

“I appreciate Dr. Weiss’s trust in my expertise,” said Dr. Estin. “Dr. Weiss had an excellent result with resolution of his neck and arm pain, restoration of full strength in his arm, and he was able to maintain full motion of his neck.”

As a result of the growth and success of Monmouth’s Neurosurgery and Spine Surgery Programs, as illustrated by patient stories like Dr. Weiss's, Monmouth Medical Center invested in an ambitious OR expansion to allow for the latest surgical techniques.

“The new OR suites are state-of-the-art operating theaters that utilize cutting-edge technology to perform surgery in a more precise and minimally invasive manner,” said Dr. Estin. “They afford us the ability to use a GPS-like navigation system called the StealthStation i7TM both for removal of brain tumors and placement of spinal instrumentation. Intraoperative CAT scan images can be obtained with a device known as the O - ARMTM and linked to the StealthStation to achieve the highest precision. The OR suites also feature several monitors so our team can simultaneously maintain visualizationof the preoperative images, intraoperative images, patient vital signs and a view of the surgery for all of the OR staff that are present. And a new operating microscope allows us to perform delicate microsurgery in a minimally invasive manner by magnifying and perfectly illuminating the operative field.”

Recently, Dr. Estin was involved with the first surgery performed in the newly opened ORs. With new technology and new ORs, coupled with the expertise of highly skilled surgeons, patient success stories – like Dr. Weiss’s – will abound.

To learn more about the Spine Surgery Program at Monmouth Medical Center, call 888-724-7123

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