Cold weather didn’t slow down the Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute neurosurgeons this winter. We have a spread of heartwarming patient stories, new research and one-of-a-kind videos to share with you. Enjoy our highlights of the season:
1. Klutziness Not in Susan’s Head, but in Her Neck
Everyone knew Susan Tillsley for being a klutz. But when a tingling sensation spread throughout her arms, she knew something was wrong. A local neurologist ran tests and told Susan the problem was in her neck.
The bony passage through which the spinal cord runs in the neck had been deteriorating and narrowing over the years. The narrowing, called stenosis, had compressed the spinal cord and led to damage. This damage to her spinal cord, called myelopathy, was the cause of Susan’s klutziness.
Her neurologist referred her to neurosurgeon Dr. Michael G. Kaiser, a nationally recognized expert in treating spinal stenosis. During Susan’s visit with Dr. Kaiser, they scheduled dates for the two surgeries she needed to repair her upper spine. Susan was all set—all she had to do was wait.
Little did anyone know, a natural disaster was about to hit Susan’s home.
2. Dr. Angevine: A Tale of Two Approaches to the Spine
You may be surprised to learn that there are two types of doctors who do spine surgery: neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons. Neurosurgeons are trained to treat disorders of the nervous system, which includes the spine and spinal cord. Orthopedic surgeons, on the other hand, are trained to treat disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Both are qualified to do spine surgery, but each offers a different, and valuable, perspective.
Wouldn’t it be great if a doctor had training in both specialties? Dr. Peter D. Angevine thinks so. That’s why he trained first as a neurosurgeon and then did a fellowship with orthopedic surgeons. His unique expertise makes him highly sought after for both surgery and teaching other surgeons at educational conferences.
3. McCormick’s Video: ‘Textbook’ Removal of Spinal Cord Tumor
Have you ever watched a world-renowned neurosurgeon perform surgery? Well, here’s your chance. And you don’t even have to leave your living room. You can watch a video of Dr. Paul C. McCormick, Director of the Spine Hospital, removing a spinal cord tumor. The patient was in his late 30s at the time, and the tumor was an ependymoma, which is typically a noncancerous, slow-growing mass.
The video shows Dr. McCormick carefully navigating to the tumor and delicately removing it. All the while, he narrates his every move. The video was published online in a special video supplement in the Journal of Neurosurgery. You can watch it here or read about the video in this blog post.
4. Dr. Anderson Looks at a Critical Measurement of the Upper Spine
When you bake a cake, you take care to measure each ingredient. Too much flour, or too little sugar or baking powder, can affect the outcome. As essential as it is to have accurate measurements in baking, in neurosurgery it is even more important. Neurosurgeons use advanced technology to measure structures and spaces in the brain or spinal cord. This information helps them plan and customize the procedure for the patient.
Dr. Richard C.E. Anderson of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Center is known for his commitment to conducting research to improve care for children. His latest contribution involves identifying the best way to measure a structure in the upper spine; the measurement can then be used to determine the optimal treatment plan for patients with a condition called Chiari Type I malformation.
Chiari Type 1 malformation, which commonly affects children, is a condition that occurs when bones at the base of the skull and upper spine are not formed properly.
Craig Livoti and his fiancée were busy planning their wedding. When it was just two weeks away, a tweak in Craig’s back sent him to the doctor. An MRI scan revealed the cause of the back pain, a herniated disc. It also revealed a dumbbell tumor in his spine, which is a rare tumor that, true to its name, resembles a dumbbell, or hourglass shape.
The tumor needed to be removed, but that was easier said than done. The surgery would be complex because the tumor was growing along a nerve and near the spinal cord. Also, because the tumor is so rare, most of the spinal surgeons Craig and his fiancée talked to had seen only one case, or none at all.
Then they heard about Dr. Paul C. McCormick, Director of the Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York. He is one of the few neurosurgeons experienced at surgically removing dumbbell tumors. There is even a video of him removing one, published online on the Journal of Neurosurgery website.
Learn more about our Spine Hospital neurosurgeons at their bio pages below: