Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spine Surgery: A Family Affair

A Second Opinion, A Better Result

Sherry Acquaviva knew she shouldn’t overexert herself. But, the carpets in her house needed cleaning and she thought she could handle the task. Unfortunately, she soon found herself with disturbing symptoms like arm and hand numbness along with difficulty turning her head. When she grew tired of pain controlling her life, she saw a doctor, who diagnosed her with a herniated disc at the base of her neck. “The surgeon gave me only one option: to take a piece of bone from my hip, and fuse it to my cervical spine in place of the herniated disc,” explains Ms. Acquaviva. “That wasn’t appealing to me, as it would require me to undergo and recover from two surgeries. Plus, there would be no way to replace the bone from my hip.”

Ms. Acquaviva sought a second opinion from Reginald Davis, MD, FACS, Division Head of Neurosurgery at GBMC’s Greater Baltimore Neurosurgical Associates (GBNA) practice, and things started looking up. “Dr. Davis made me feel completely at ease about my surgery and gave me several options. Together, we decided that the best treatment for me was to implant a donor bone rather than use bone from my own hip.” Ms. Acquaviva’s surgery was a great success that yielded immediate relief, and her experience ultimately helped her aunt, Margie Russo, find relief from her excruciating back pain as well.

Developing the Best Treatment Plan for Each Patient

Margie Russo was no stranger to spine surgery and that’s why she was afraid to have it again. In 2005, she underwent invasive surgery at another hospital to remove a spinal cord tumor that could have left her paralyzed if not treated. The open procedure required an incision made directly into the spinal cord, resulting in nerve damage that left Ms. Russo with chronic pain.

“I’m used to the pain I experience due to the nerve damage; I can tolerate it,” says Ms. Russo. But her usual pain became unbearable after she lifted a large piece of luggage during a recent vacation. “I felt something pull. Then, my back began to spasm and I started having extreme pains shoot down my left leg,” recalls Ms. Russo. “It hurt to sit, stand or walk. Anything I did was excruciating.” Ms. Russo was told that, on top of her nerve damage and chronic pain, she had a herniated disc as well. She attempted physical therapy, acupuncture sessions and even met with a neurosurgeon to try to find solutions for her pain. When none of the options offered relief, her niece, Ms. Acquaviva, recommended that she make an appointment with Dr. Davis.

Ms. Russo explained her concerns about surgery with Dr. Davis. “I did not want to have a completely open incision that would expose the surrounding anatomy of my spine,” she says. “The first neurosurgeon I visited said open surgery was my only choice, but I was afraid another invasive surgery would cause more painful nerve damage.”

After listening to Ms. Russo’s worries, Dr. Davis proposed an alternative. He believed a minimally invasive spine surgery called microdiscectomy was the best route to remove the damaged portion of the disc. “This procedure requires a much smaller incision than traditional surgery,” says Dr. Davis. “We perform the same amount of surgery, but with smaller incisions, so there is less tissue damage, less blood loss and a shorter hospital stay.”

Though Ms. Russo continues to feel some of the chronic pain she had prior her most recent injury, the microdiscectomy immediately relieved the excruciating pain caused by the herniated disc. “Mentally and physically, I’m back to normal,” she says. “Thanks to Dr. Davis, I can now do essential everyday activities, like sit down to pay my bills, without suffering unbearable pain. Hopefully, no one else in our family will ever need spine surgery, but if that time comes, Sherry and I already know who we’ll recommend!”

Learn More

For additional information about the services offered by GBNA, visit or call 443-849-GBMC (4262).

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for giving information on spine surgery.It is really good and helpful for the people.Keep giving such a valuable information.
    Regards:spine surgery india