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Extreme back surgery

  1. Dec 26, 2006 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    I thought that some here might find this interesting. These are X-Rays of my mother's back. You can see the cage used to replace the support provided by several vertebrae which to a large extent have been cut away. Also seen is the electrical stimulator implant that helps to block the pain. The electrodes are not in place at this time. She has been in moderate to severe pain for two years, and what you see is result of the fifth or sixth surgery I think... this one involved three surgeries over three days. It was so serious that she had one of the nation's leading neurosurgeons, and the chief of staff of a world class department at a major research hospital, as her personal physicians. It became a case for the books. Presently we are hopeful that she is on the road to recovery - reduced levels of morphine with limited mobility. As you can imagine, at over seventy years of age, she has been through hell. Note also the artificial hip seen below the cage.

    http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/3158/xray1aze3.jpg [Broken]
    http://img226.imageshack.us/img226/6406/xray2avb3.jpg [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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  3. Dec 26, 2006 #2


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    Ouch! It is amazing what medical science can do these days. My brother (48) has two titanium inserts in his spinal column to prevent further disintegration of two vertebrae, and that has greatly reduced his pain and numbness.
  4. Dec 27, 2006 #3
    That's beautiful work, lumbar cages work as well as bone-graph implants. The debate on how well either of these work, is still open ended. But what I have noticed, the better the surgeon is with their operative techniques, the better success rate. Looking post-mortem, you can almost tell where and by whom, the operation was was performed.
    Good to hear she had the best, I hope it makes her more comfortable.
  5. Dec 29, 2006 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    Oddly enough, we were lucky that she was such a severe and unusual case. This finally allowed a fast track to the best of the best. Most people would never have access to this level of care. It is slow going, but some three months after the surgeries she seems to be improving significantly. She is certainly far better off than before.

    The decision was made by a board of surgeons and other specialists, and the only nay vote was from the surgeon who would do the surgery. But this was offered as the last and only option to a life in bed while taking as much morphine as she could tolerate, which still could not control the pain. After two years of this she was already sliding downhill fast, and in fact it was a life or death situation.

    It was suggested that we might hope for 30-50% relief of the pain, and that she might regain the use of her right leg, which she has. She only has limited use of her left leg from an earlier failed surgery, but she can manage with a walker, or when she is stronger, perhaps she could manage with a cane. It looks like we might even hope for more like 80% pain relief at this point. So, all in all, it looks like she might have some degree of a life again. So for our family this certainly qualifies as a miracle of modern medicine in a very real sense. And I will tell you, I can complain about my mother all day, but she is the strongest person I have ever met. In her situation, I would have jumped out of a hospital window by now. It doesn't get much worse than this.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2006
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