Monday, July 11, 2011

Spine Surgeon in San Francisco Says Spinal Fusion Can Be Reversed.

Back pain & injuries: Dr. Kenneth Light specializes in cases considered "hopeless," cases so severe that other physicians consider them beyond treatment. He recently performed the first spinal fusion reversal procedures in the U.S.

A 25 year-old woman survived after a horse fell on her, but severe pain and headaches follow her initial neck fusion surgery. Dr. Light determines she would do better with partial removal of the fusion hardware.

When the horse that Kendra Sayles was riding bucked, stumbled and fell on top of her on a Colorado ranch last year, she was lucky to survive. Kendra was left with multiple, life-threatening injuries including serious trauma to the vertebrae in her neck. She was finally discovered and taken by ambulance to a hospital in the nearest town, then transferred to a larger hospital for assessment and surgery. In addition to her neck injury, all of Kendra’s ribs were broken, she had a collapsed lung, a broken hip and femur and other serious injuries. “My surgeons told my family that I might not survive,” she says.

Kendra underwent multiple procedures to address her injuries including fusion surgery which stabilized her neck but left her with restricted range of motion. The fusion procedure did little to diminish the debilitating pain, which Kendra describes as “intense periods of unbearable pain alternating with periods of excruciating pain”. “Even though I was placed on morphine and other drugs, the pain was indescribable,” she says. My doctors told me I had to learn to live with the pain.

“I was only in my early 20’s, and I had a full and active life. Now I was in a state where I didn’t know if I wanted to live any longer; I was in a full body brace and the pain and confinement was so unbearable. I knew I could not accept living like this.”

Over the following months Kendra began to research spine surgeons, especially those who perform revision procedures. Kendra came across several articles and news stories on San Francisco spine surgeon Dr. Kenneth Light, who specializes in primary and revision spine surgery. Kendra began to correspond with him, sending dozens of medical mages of her neck injury. When Dr. Light told Kendra that he might be able to improve her condition, she scheduled a procedure to correct her previous surgery.

Dr. Light told Kendra that although he couldn’t make any guarantees, there was a good chance that he could relieve Kendra’s chronic pain and headaches along with the benefit of restoring some range of motion to her neck.

"Never give up hope" is Dr. Light's motto. "I don't believe in giving up on patients until I've tried everything possible to help them," he says. "When you're affecting the way people live their lives, you can't justify doing anything less."

Dr. Light determined that a portion of Kendra’s neck didn't need to be fused in the first place, so during the procedure he removed part of the apparatus used in the previous fusion, allowing for a more natural range of motion in her neck to be restored.

Kendra says that she noticed a difference as soon as she awoke from the anesthesia -  the pain was gone. It’s now been a month since Kendra’s revision surgery and she is well on her way to enjoying a greatly improved quality of life. She says that her debilitating pain has been relieved and she can now move her head more normally. “It’s amazing how much you move your head in everyday life, when you’re driving a car or just talking with someone’: she says. “You don’t notice it until you lose that range of motion. I feel so fortunate to have found Dr. Light,” she says.

Dr. Light says that correcting a previous neck or back surgery can be difficult. “You must remove the hardware used in the previous procedure without causing any further injury to the affected area,” he says. “Then you start over again to fix the original problem. The best neck or back surgeries are those that are done well the first time.”

For more information visit or call 415.673.4500.

No comments: