newsletter

Spring 2017
Victor Is Victorious
Assessment, Imaging and Surgery Within 24 Hours Saves Patient From Eventual Paralysis



Victor was gradually losing the use of his hands. This was impacting his life and his livelihood as a barber. When he woke one morning and was unable to walk, Victor turned to our practice for help.

For several weeks, 46-year-old Victor Young had noticed a slight tingling in his arms, neck and hands. Progressive weakness soon followed, making it hard to lift his arms or use his hands. This is a difficult situation for anyone, but particularly for a barber who needed to stand all day and use his hands. His symptoms continued to worsen, until one morning Victor woke up and couldn’t get out of his bed.

Victor underwent cervical laminectomy and fusion surgery. In this procedure, a three- to four-inch incision is made along the back of the neck. A section of bone (lamina and spinous process) from the rear of one or more vertebrae is removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. The spine is then stabilized using rods and screws to fuse two or more vertebrae.

“My legs felt like rubber bands. I couldn’t walk,” said Victor. He called his doctor, who is also a client at his barbershop, and explained his problem. He was told to immediately go to Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates.

When Victor came to our Charlotte office, he was examined by physiatrist Scott Otis, MD. He was showing signs of spinal cord compression. Dr. Otis sent him for an urgent on-site MRI.

“Dr. Otis treated me like I was his brother,” said Victor.

The MRI confirmed severe cervical stenosis and spinal cord compression. Dr. Otis then asked practice neurosurgeon Matthew McGirt, MD, to review the imaging and examine Victor that same day.

“Victor was losing the ability to walk and was likely facing eventual paralysis,” said Dr. McGirt. “I explained the urgency of his situation and recommended that we move forward with surgery the next day.”

“I asked if I was going to die,” said Victor. “The doctors said ‘Not here. You’re going to walk and you’re going to have a normal life.’ They put my mind at ease.”

The following day, Victor underwent cervical laminectomy and fusion surgery. In this procedure, a three- to four-inch incision is made along the back of the neck. A section of bone (lamina and spinous process) from the rear of one or more vertebrae is removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. The spine is then stabilized using rods and screws to fuse two or more vertebrae.

The surgery was a complete success and Victor’s recovery was faster than expected. Most patients who have this type of surgery typically require a three- to six-month recovery period before getting back to normal activities. After just 30 days, Victor was running on the treadmill and swimming. Best of all, he could continue his hairstyling career.

“This case is a prime example of how we can impact patients with urgent conditions by having resources under one roof to quickly assess a patient, get prompt imaging and receive a neurosurgical consult,” said Dr. McGirt.

“My incision has healed very nicely, but I don’t try to hide it,” said Victor. “I’m proud of it. Because I can tell the story of how I was almost paralyzed and now I can run, swim and live my life just like they told me I could.”

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