Dr. Michael Wang is chief of neurosurgery at the University of Miami Health System. For more information on outpatient spinal surgery at UHealth, call 305-243-6946 or visit the UHealth health news blog.
Sandra Grant, 62, still struggles with the memory of the back pain that made it almost impossible for her to get through the workday.
“I just felt so embarrassed,” she says. “It bothered me that my coworkers could see me in pain.” Sandra says her pain also made her feel her job was at risk. After pain management treatments failed to help, she was referred to Dr. Michael Wang, chief of neurosurgery at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System.
“Sandra had a very complicated situation, a dislocation of her vertebrae where the spine has slipped apart,” says Dr. Wang. The condition, a form of arthritis called spondylosis, caused Sandra’s crippling pain.
Although she had fears about having surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sandra had reached a breaking point. “I told Dr. Wang I was tired, I’m in pain, and I needed help,” she says.
In July, Dr. Wang performed spinal surgery on Sandra using a minimally-invasive approach performed while patients are awake that is now offered as an outpatient procedure. Benefits of the approach include a reduction in time spent at the hospital and a quicker recovery at home.
“This particular technique requires us to use six different technologies,” says Dr. Wang. “It involves doing a number of specialized things so people can have a spinal surgery without general anesthesia.”
Dr. Wang and his team started performing “awake” spinal surgeries in 2013, becoming a model for surgeons around the world who want to offer the cutting-edge treatment option to their patients, too.
“In Florida, we’re still the only ones that are really doing this type of procedure in this way,” he says.
Thanks to this new outpatient approach, Sandra left the hospital the same day as her surgery and is now grateful to be able to resume life as she knew it.
“My pain is gone. I feel like a new person,” she says.
“We use this technique because it’s just a much less invasive approach,” says Dr. Wang. “In the age of coronavirus, it enhances safety. In Sandra’s case, that’s exactly what she needed.”
FOCUSING ON YOU
Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine is a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on WPLG Local 10. For more stories like this one, visit YouTube channels for UHealth, the University of Miami Health System.
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