Spinal Surgery Made Easy

FRESNO, Calif.

Courtney Rogers is like any 16-year-old. She's learning to drive, looking forward to prom, and proud of her recent yearbook accolade.

"Best hair! I like to do my hair a lot, and I take a lot of time on it," Courtney Rogers, a 16 year old student, told Action News.

But a recent health scare made Courtney wonder if she'd be able to enjoy the rest of her teen years. Doctors found a tumor on her spine. It wasn't cancerous -- but still posed dangers. "Potentially, if I didn't have surgery, I would be paralyzed," stated Courtney. "There were very sleepless night," Julie Rodgers, Courtney's mom, said.

The tumor sat on the surface of Courtney's spine, a tricky area to reach.

"The standard way to remove it is, through a very large incision in the chest cavity. One that's about 18 inches long, a rib is removed, and the chest cavity is spread widely apart," Curtis Dickman, M.D., a neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurologic Institute and St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, said.

Instead, Dr. Dickman used a breakthrough endoscopic technique on Courtney that only a few doctors in the world perform. He made three small incisions in the spaces between her ribs. Special tools were placed through the holes. He clipped the vessels that supplied blood to the tumor and removed the tumor through the chest cavity. It was about the size of a golf ball.

"It's really a remarkable difference. The pain is much, much less. They get out of the hospitalmuch faster," Dr. Dickman said.

In fact, with standard surgery, it's one to two weeks in the hospital but with the new technique, one to two days. Recovery was two to three months with the old. Now it's one to two weeks! Courtney's tumor is completely gone, allowing this teen to enjoy all the sweet things in life.

Dr. Dickman says the endoscopic technique is just as safe, if not safer, as the standard surgery. The only problem is it's difficult to find a surgeon who can perform it. Only a few hospitals in the world are currently using this technique for spinal applications.

Carmelle Malkovich
Public Relations
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center
Phoenix, AZ
(602) 406-3319

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