In most cases, the spine surgery that is performed in clinics around the country is minimally invasive and low risk, designed to alleviate pain and restore patients to their original, high quality of life. But a recent surgery performed by doctors at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital was extremely high risk. In fact, surgeons described the procedure as life threatening.
The story behind the surgery began back in 2016, when New York State Trooper John Antonelli was working a kidnapping case in Westchester County. Antonelli was hot on the trail of the kidnapper after his victim had escaped, and he discovered the man hiding in a shed. The officer gave chase, and in attempting to jump a fence he landed badly herniating multiple spinal discs and leaving him in perpetual agony.
The pain Antonelli experienced following this injury was excruciating, and he made the decision to seek treatment outside of the United States, going to Europe to undergo a surgery that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved: he had two artificial lumbar disks inserted in his back.
Despite having received assurances from the European surgeons who performed his surgery, the procedure failed, leaving him in even more pain. He described his situation as crippling, and reported being unable to walk, lay down, stand or sit without experiencing agony. Seeking help back in the United States, he learned that the artificial discs had both failed, collapsing in two different directions and causing his spine to collapse and pinch multiple nerves, as well as causing additional significant damage.
According to a vascular surgeon, the surgery was made far more serious by the presence of both scar tissue and huge blood vessels that surrounded the artificial discs, saying, “There was so much scar tissue and so much adhesions in the back that the vena cava and the aorta were stuck on the anterior wall of the spinous process.” The physician described the surgery as more than risky: he said that it was life threatening because the key blood vessels were immediately adjacent to the discs that needed to be extracted, creating the very real risk of Antonelli bleeding to death if either vessel was even nicked.
Still, despite the risk, Antonelli and his family elected to move forward with the surgery in hopes that his quality of life would be restored. The decision was made that his life had gotten so bad that the risks were worth it.
The vascular surgeon collaborated with a spine surgeon, with the former lifting the blood vessels out of the way so that the spine surgeon could extract the damaged artificial discs. The procedure was then completed the next day, when the spine was fused using rods and screws. One week after surgery Antonelli was already walking and reporting a reduction in his pain.
Whatever the source of your lower back pain, it is important to seek help from physicians who use approved medical technology and who have achieved the highest levels of experience and knowledge in their field. To set up an appointment with our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey, contact our office today.