About 5 years ago, I had back surgery with John Rhee, MD at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Dr. Rhee removed pressure off of nerves in my back and joined two back bones together. Following that procedure, everything was fine. I knew at the time that I had a scoliosis that might eventually need to be addressed, but the decision was made to do the smallest operation first and just take care of the area that was causing the pain. Low and behold, the scoliosis did eventually catch up with me, and I started to experience sciatic pain from my buttock to ankle several times throughout the day. I was working, but I was taking medications to mask the pain just so I could go to work. I could not do anything else because I did not want to agitate my back.
Prior to suggesting surgery, Dr. Rhee recommended trying to rehab my back to see if a nonoperative approach would help. However, after trying, it became obvious that nonoperative treatment was not working, and that surgery would be the best option for me. About a month and half before surgery I was given exercises to complete which would end up helping me after surgery. I thought this was unique and the medical team was right, because I would not be able to rehab immediately post-surgery. I was preparing for after surgery before I even went into surgery.
During surgery, my wife was in the waiting room and she was updated on my status by the hour. Due to my severe scoliosis, it was a major fusion operation involving multiple levels from the thoracic spine down to the sacrum. However, the Orthopaedics and Spine team made her feel very comfortable. I was in the hospital for a total of 2 days, came home on the 3rd day and started my recovery. From Dr. Rhee’s nurse, Betty Dundee, to the staff, my experience was great!
Prior to me going to Dr. Rhee, I had a fraternity brother, who is an Orthopedic surgeon, take a look at my x-ray before surgery and he viewed it after surgery as well. My friend could not believe what a great job Dr. Rhee did. He said “You got a good guy!”. All of my friends call me wonder man because they can’t believe I can do what I’m doing based on seeing me beforehand. For example, my wife and another person watched me walk down the pavement to make sure I had proper form, and I did! Dr. Rhee did a great job. Even though I needed a major operation, the surgery seemed so easy and well done. I cannot see someone not going through surgery because I found it so simple. I’m very pleased and I’m on my feet once again.
A Note From Dr. Rhee About Scoliosis and Spine Surgery
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine that can lead to nerve compression, pain, and if severe enough, deformity. Surgical treatment of scoliosis usually requires a spinal fusion. Depending on the magnitude of the scoliosis, multiple levels in the spine may require fusion, which can make it a major operation. Nevertheless, when properly executed, surgery for scoliosis is associated with excellent outcomes.
About Dr. Rhee
Specializing in cervical spine surgery, lumbar spine surgery, complex spinal deformity surgery (scoliosis and kyphosis), and surgery for spinal tumors, Dr. Rhee is an active researcher and sought-after teacher/lecturer at the national and international level in multiple medical societies. He has served as faculty and been an invited lecturer at numerous meetings and courses on spine surgery. In addition, he has served as Program Chairman at numerous national and international spine surgery meetings. Dr. Rhee has also published extensively in a number of peer reviewed journals and book chapters, and he has received numerous awards and honors. He is actively involved the training of international research scholars and other spinal surgeons and has been the author and editor of numerous books on spine surgery techniques.