At our New Jersey spine surgery practice, we treat many challenging conditions, including Ankylosing Spondylitis. Ankylosing Spondylitis is a type of arthritis that affects over two million Americans, causing painful inflammation and rigidity that gets worse over time. It is an autoimmune disease for which there is no cure, but which can generally be managed.
Different people have the disease in different degrees of severity, but a man from China’s Hunan Province had one of the worst cases known, and recently underwent life-changing surgery.
Li Hua’s case of Ankylosing Spondylitis was so bad that he was unable to stand up straight. In his case, the inflammation in his spine led to his body producing extra calcium to grow more bone. The spine fused into a forward-hunching curvature called kyphosis.
His condition first made itself known when he was 18. Though as a teenager he had stood normally, by the time he was 28 he was living with his face pressed against his thighs.
He had been refused surgery on the grounds that it would be too dangerous, but at 46 years old, he recently sought help at Shenzhen University General Hospital, where Professor Tao Huiren, head of spinal surgery and orthopaedics performed multiple surgeries to relieve the man’s condition.
The physician said that the condition was putting pressure on Hua’s heart and lungs, and his posture — referred to as ‘three-on’ because of the three points of contact (chin on chest, sternum on pubis, and face on femur) — would kill him if allowed to progress any further.
Prior to the surgery Mr. Hua’s condition had left him struggling to eat or drink and entirely dependent upon his mother. He is now able to stand upright and to sleep lying flat, and should be able to walk without a walker in the next three months.
The treatment consisted of four operations performed over the past year, each of which surgically broke his spine into sections to straighten him out.
Professor Huiren said, “Our only option was to break his bones one section at a time – femur, cervical vertebrae, thoracic vertebrae, lumbar vertebrae – and then straighten his entire spinal column. The risks involved were 20 to 30 times that of a regular spinal surgery patient, and the chances of him becoming a paraplegic were also very high.”
As for Mr. Hua, he said, “There would’ve been no cure for me without Dr Tao. He’s my savior, and my gratitude to him is second only to my mother.”
Today’s medical technology allows successful treatment of even the most challenging conditions. If you are suffering from cervical or lumbar spine pain, contact us today to set up an appointment for a consultation.