Posts Tagged ‘patient story’

Scoliosis Spine Surgery- Patient Success Story

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine with multiple symptoms. Surgical treatment of scoliosis usually requires a spinal fusion. 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

Dr. John Rhee, Orthopedist AtlantaSpecializing 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.

Emory Tennis Medicine Program: Patient Story

jayanthi patient story 2It was Labor Day weekend of 2015 , and  I was in Tennessee playing  in a tennis tournament. While playing, I suddenly could not bend over very well. I could hardly walk, twist or turn. I didn’t know it at the time but I had 3 stress fractures in my back potentially from how quickly I had grown  in a year and a half. At that time I was playing about 18 hours a week on average, and in the summer I played a little more. My back had been hurting off and on for about a year, but I was going to physical therapy once a week throughout that time which seemed to be helping.  Previously I experienced tightness in my back but the tightness would come and go.  It would hurt for a few days and after physical therapy would feel better.  However, I was always nervous because I never knew when it would come back.  I had heard of other tennis players with back issues but I didn’t think mine was as serious. During that match on Labor Day weekend, my parents pulled me off after the first set and I defaulted  the tournament. Oddly enough the next day I felt fine.  I could do everything and my flexibility came back.  I even went to tennis practice.

That  random alteration in my performance is what led my mother to setting up an appointment. In October I had an x-ray taken of my back and was told that there was an area of concern in my lower spine, so I was sent for and MRI to get a better image.  The results came back soon after and  I was told that I had stress fractures in my back.  My parents picked me up from practice as soon as they got the news and I had to stop all activity immediately. I was shocked. It didn’t seem like It could be possible because I had been feeling fine, but my back was broken!

My parents started doing research trying to find a doctor with specific experience in helping tennis players with injuries like mine,  and they learned about Neeru Jayanthi, MD at the Emory Sports Medicine Center.  My mother called and asked for Dr. Jayanthi and scheduled an appointment since he was tennis specific. The process was amazing.  We were excited and blown away by the response time.  An appointment was scheduled within a few days!

During the office visit, Dr. Jayanthi mapped out a plan. As part of the Emory Sports Medicine Tennis program, I was taken to a fitness center to see if there were any flaws in my strokes that may have caused the fractures.

This was the first specialized doctor that I had seen who did an on court evaluation with me, and he gave me confidence that I would be able to return to playing. The one-on-one hands-on evaluation and interaction was great, and it was very helpful to have a step by step plan for returning to the court.

In January of 2016, I went back for another appointment and was evaluated again. This time Dr. Jayanthi let me hit full court, serve and run around. It was fun to play again after being out for so long, and I felt like I was finally getting closer to being back. Before the end of my appointment, Dr. Jayanthi gave me a plan to gradually build up a few hours each week and specific drills to work on.  Now, I’m currently playing about 10 hours a week.

I am more capable of and doing more now than I ever imagined compared to what I was able to do when I first got the shocking news.  I have  increased my flexibility, core strength and upper body strength. I don’t rely on my back as much as I did before  and I have a much greater sense of freedom when it comes to being on the court, knowing that I will not get hurt again.

It’s been a tough experience but I feel much stronger in many ways because of it. I recommend any athlete struggling with back pain to have it looked at quickly. I waited a while thinking that it was just muscle soreness and growing pains when in fact I had fractures in my back.

A note from Dr. Jayanthi

On court evaluations are performed by Dr. Jayanthi (who is also USPTA-certified teaching professional) most commonly on junior/elite level tennis players who are looking to optimally return to competitive tennis while reducing their future risk of injury to identify any opportunities for modifying strokes to accommodate for an injury.

This is typically done on the tennis court, after a medical evaluation to identify the specific medical deficits, and then coupled with a research survey, video analysis and then progressions to help modify strokes and then return to tennis effectively.  If there are any notable deficits or any more significant changes to strokes, these are often communicated to the teaching professional/coach.  We follow these players at 6 months and at 1 year to assess their injury and performance status.

About Dr. Jayanthi

jayanthi-neeru-aNeeru Jayanthi, MD, is considered one of the country’s leading experts in youth sports health, injuries and sports training patterns, as well as an international leader in tennis medicine. He is currently the President of the International Society for Tennis Medicine and Science (STMS) and a certified USPTA tennis teaching professional. He previously was the medical director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University Chicago prior to being recruited to Emory, where he will lead an innovative tennis medicine program.

Dr. Jayanthi’s practice is open to all children and adults with non-surgical issues related to activity and sports. He particularly loves working with young athletes of all sports, and

Atlanta Opera Violinist Back on Her Feet Thanks to Emory Orthopedists!

Fia Mancini Durrett, Atlanta Opera Orchestra Violinist and Emory patient, recently played her violin for Emory Sports Medicine physician Sam Labib, MD and his clinic staff. Fia made a deal with Dr. Labib that if he could help rid her of foot and back pain, she would play her violin for him in clinic.

Dr. Labib held up his end of the deal, so on her last visit to the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, Fia brought her violin along.

Cartilage Replacement Surgery – A Patient’s Success Story

cartilage repair
Marcus Hutchinson knows all too well about surgery and physical therapy – he has had 6 surgeries on his left knee. He has also been a physical therapist for 22 years. As a teenager, Marcus was diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans, also known as OCD, a joint condition in which a piece of cartilage, along with a layer of the bone beneath it, comes loose from the end of a bone due to trauma or lack of blood flow to this area. Osteochondritis dissecans is most commonly found in the knee and often occurs in young men.

By the time Marcus arrived at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine in Dr. Sam Labib’s clinic in 2006, his left knee had been operated on 4 different times. Dr. Labib examined Marcus and determined he had a massive osteochondral defect in his left knee that involved his entire lateral femoral condyle, a portion of the top bone of the knee joint.

Previous doctors had told Marcus that the only option he had left was total knee replacement. Dr. Labib did not recommend knee replacement because Marcus was too young to have this procedure. Typically, a joint replacement will only last about 15-20 years so if Marcus were to have the knee replaced in his 30’s, he would probably need to have another knee replacement by his 50s.-

Dr. Labib was able to offer Marcus a unique procedure called cartilage replacement surgery. Marcus had a massive fresh allograft implantation taken from a cadaver in February 2010 to treat his osteochondral defect.

There are several surgical techniques available to treat patients with OCD.

Below are three that Dr. Labib regularly performs.

• Microfracture Surgery – In microfracture surgery, small holes are drilled into the underlying bone, creating blood clots. As the blood clots heal, new repair cartilage or fibrocartilage forms.

• Autologus Osteochondral Plug Transfer – In this procedure, the patient’s own cartilage and bone are harvested from a low-stress area of the knee and implanted into the patient’s knee in the damaged area to fill the holes and defects with healthy cartilage and bone.

• Fresh Allograft Implantation – In this surgery, the cartilage and bone are taken from a fresh cadaver that has been donated for medical use. The donated tissue, also called an allograft, is thoroughly screened and matched to the patient defect to give it the best possible chance of successful healing. The surgeon prepares the patient’s knee by removing the damaged area. The allograft is then implanted and anchored to the surrounding bone.

Marcus’ surgery was performed at Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital. When asked about his experience he states, “I had such a positive experience at the hospital. Great care! Very attentive staff. Clean, professional and efficient.”

Marcus had one major goal following surgery and that was to walk and stand without pain. “I stand all day at work when seeing my patients for physical therapy. Before surgery with Dr. Labib, I had so much pain in my knee that it was affecting my job and day to day life. I feel so much more stable and pain-free now after having cartilage replacement surgery.” Marcus says he has a new perspective on what patients are experiencing after surgery and during physical therapy which has made him better at his job as a physical therapist. He is back to enjoying life with no pain and participating in low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, and yoga.

About Dr. Sameh (Sam) A. Labib

Sam Labib, MD, is a sports medicine fellowship-trained surgeon and director of the foot and ankle service at Emory. Dr. Labib started practicing at Emory in 1999. He is an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery.

Dr. Labib has a particular interest in problems and procedures of the knee, ankle, and foot. He is the head team physician for the athletic programs at Oglethorpe University, Spelman College, and Georgia Perimeter College. He is also an orthopaedic consultant to the Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Tech and Emory University.

He has lectured both nationally and internationally at many orthopedic meetings. His research has been published in several journals, including the JBJS, Arthroscopy, Foot and Ankle International and the American Journal of Orthopedics as well as numerous video presentations and book chapters. Dr. Labib is Board Certified in orthopedic surgery with additional subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine Surgery. For the past 5 years, Dr. Labib has been nominated by his peers as one of “America’s Top Doctors” as tracked by

Related Resources

Collapsed Disc Spine Patient Races to Recovery

For years, triathlete Denise Novicki suffered from excruciating spinal pain in her lower back. Founder of Tri2Remember, a triathlon club that raises money to fight Alzheimer’s disease, Denise had always led an active lifestyle, but her back pain made it difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy her favorite pastime.

“I was in such immense pain that I was looking for some very trusted resources to manage my pain,” Denise says. She chose the Emory Spine Center at the Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital for assessment and a solution.

“What we’ve tried to do here at the Emory Spine Center is take the worry and the guessing out of a spine or back problem,” says Dr. Scott Boden (pictured left), director of the Center. “When people come here, we help them figure out what’s wrong and give them lots of different options.”

Before the spine doctors at the Emory Spine Center suggest surgery, they investigate all possible nonsurgical interventions, but they also know that, in some cases, a simple surgery may make the difference between experiencing debilitating pain and living pain free.

To find out the cause of her back pain, Denise met with spine surgeon Dr. John Heller, who discovered that she had a collapsed disc. It was clear to Dr. Heller that surgery would bring Denise relief and allow her to get her life back. “Denise came to us seeking advice on how to improve back pain that had really gotten in the way of her normal lifestyle,” says Dr. Heller. “She was an avid athlete and was having tremendous difficulty maintaining a training regiment, let alone a normal, everyday life.”

Before her spine surgery, Denise signed up for an upcoming Ironman distance race. She wanted to be sure she had a goal in place that would help her stay focused on recovery. She achieved her goal. “Coming into doing the Ironman, I had a different perspective than probably most athletes do, because I came to the table with thankfulness that I am actually able to compete. I did what I set out to do, and I couldn’t have done it without the team at Emory.” To learn more about Denise’s experience with spine surgery at Emory, check out the short video below:

Dr. Boden says, “The thing I love about taking care of patients with spine problems is that we have a real opportunity to help patients get their lives back, and that’s a very special thing.”

Dr. Scott BodenThe spine doctors at the Emory Spine Center are dedicated to excellent spine care. “Some places, people are part-time spine and part-time hips and knees, but what’s unique about our group is that everybody primarily focuses on taking care of patients with spine problems, teaching trainees who are learning about the spine, and doing research to try and explore new and better ways to treat spinal problems,” says Dr. Boden (pictured left). “If you end up coming to Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, you’ll leave saying that you’ve never been in a hospital that’s anything like it.”

Have you had spinal surgery at the Emory Spine Center? We’d like to hear about your experience. Please take a moment to give us feedback in the comments section below.

Related Resources: