Third Time is Charmed: Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery Relieves Woman's Sciatic Pain

With sciatic pain finally gone, woman can travel, play with grandkids.

minimally invasive-spinal surgery
Issada Thongtrangan, MD, shows Beverley King where a protruding disk caused her sciatic pain. He inserted a spacer between the vertebrae to maintain disk height and stabilized the site with rods and screws.

"Do-overs" are never fun, no matter the project. Repairs may be tricky, and almost always require more work and expertise.

This is especially true in medicine. Most surgeons hate to re-do a procedure that didn't turn out as expected or that developed complications.

Their reluctance to repair is exacerbated when it's some other surgeon's work they're being asked to fix.

That's exactly where Beverley King found herself early this year. She had lower back surgery twice, once in the 1980s and again about five years ago. But sciatic pain "was still making me insane," she said. "It was as if my leg was on fire."

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The pain was only part of the problem. Her large family – eight children, four step-children, 23 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren – is scattered across the country as well as here in the Valley.

But she couldn't manage the travel to visit them when her back was bad. "I couldn't even go to my aunt's funeral," she said sadly.

On the rare occasions when family gathered in the Phoenix area, Bev could sit and visit, but she couldn't play with the kids. "That was hard because I had been active," she said. "My husband and I had some acreage here in the Valley and used to raise greyhounds."

"Beverley was seen by more than one doctor who said there wasn't much they could do for her," said orthopedic surgeon Issada Thongtrangan, MD. Known to his patients as Dr. T., he felt he could.

"I believe if we do the appropriate studies and, more importantly, spend time listening to our patients so we understand the depth of their problems, we can frankly discuss their options as well as expectations,” Dr. T. said. "It's not often that we recommend a third surgery to address the same problem, but in Beverley's case, it was appropriate.”

"They did X-rays and MRIs," Beverley said, "and one of the disks in my lower back was still protruding, putting pressure on my sciatic nerve. Dr. T. said he could fix it."

At John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital, Dr. T. removed the disk, inserted a spacer between the vertebrae to maintain disk height and stabilized the site with rods and screws.

Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery

minimally invasive-spinal surgery
Orthopedic surgeon Issada Thongtrangan, MD, was able to relieve Beverley King's sciatic pain with surgery that repaired a disk in her lower back.

"Instead of cutting the muscles that run parallel to the spine, we used a special retractor to dilate the muscles so we could slip between them to do the surgery," said Issada Thongtrangan, MD.

"We also used imaging guidance and a percutaneous pedicle screws technique through small incisions into the patient's spine," he added. "This held the stabilizing rods in place, minimized the muscular injury and helped speed the patient's recovery."

Pain Disappears

In spite of the seriousness of her surgery, Beverley was only in the hospital for a couple of days. Dr. T. credits her rapid recovery, among other things, to the minimally invasive nature of the procedure he performed.

"My experience at John C. Lincoln was 100 percent wonderful," Beverley said. "The nurses were all very attentive; Dr. T. would bring in his laptop computer and see me every day. I was in and out with 99 percent of my pain gone.

"Before my surgery, pain would wake me up at night," she added. "Now it's wonderful to be able to sleep with no pain, and when I wake, to tackle every normal activity of daily living. I'm doing 30 minutes on the treadmill every day and starting to lose the weight I gained when I couldn't move. I can do all my own shopping! I can travel, and I know I'll be able to play with my grandchildren.

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