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Thread: Wife's Cervical Stenosis - Alternative to Surgery?

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  1. #1

    Wife's Cervical Stenosis - Alternative to Surgery?

    My wife Marilyn is in Montefiore Hospital, Bronx NY. Went in on Sunday Oct 11. Has a bad leg infection. She is also getting numbness in hands. They are giving her TWO antibiotics and Lasix to get the water out of leg. She is very obese. Her infection is getting better slowly, but draining as they continue IV antibiotics.
    They did MRI of spine. Neurology MD RESIDENTS said MRI shows spinal narrowing, and will probably need surgery to correct. They scared the hell out of her and me saying that if she doesn't have surgery, she could fall or turn neck and get paralyzed!? Is this correct?
    Can't they treat this more conservatively without surgery? I just spoke to her now 11:45PM and she confirmed that it was the Neurology RESIDENTS that told her this and not regular MD's. They are at Monte because it is the teaching hospital of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Thank you so much for your help, I am so worried.
    --Alan

  2. #2
    Spinal stenosis is a fairly common problem. Is she having symptoms at all? This would include weakness, tingling or numbness, or problems with bowel or bladder control? Generally it is not recommended to do surgery unless the person is having symptoms such as this, as there is also a significant risk of the surgery itself causing paralysis. If she is quite obese, there is also additional risks of any surgery, as you probably know. While there is risk for more easily have significant neurologic deficit as the result of a fall or accident with spinal stenosis, if care is taken to prevent falls and such accidents this is must less of a worry.

    I would definitely NOT consider such a surgery an emergency in the situation you describe, and would strongly encourage her to get at least 2 more opinions from expert neurosurgeons who specialize in such surgery before doing anything.

    By the way, residents are "regular MDs" but they are still in training for a specialty. I think you should at least discuss this with the attending physician, who is the supervisor of the resident.

    Meanwhile, she would be less at risk for falls and serious accidents if she works hard at loosing weight. Is she working on this with her physician?

    (KLD)

  3. #3

    Surgical Resident visit.

    SCI-Nurse-
    Thank you so much for your reply with expert opinion. Marilyn was the Blood Bank Manager at Montefiore, and worked there for 25+ years. She would give out blood for the SEVENTEEN+ operating suites.
    I visited her today. Luckily I was there in the evening when the Surgical Resident came to visit. He painted the spinal operation as routine, with easy recovery-no big deal. She asked who does the surgery. He said regular MD as residents will "open" or do other things under supervision of regular surgeon. He said there are alternative treatments. Still, he really seemed to be a 'salesman" for spinal surgery.
    She has numbness in her hands but had NO trouble grasping and holding a heavy Saline bottle or other items. She is ambulatory, and has no other pain associated with the Cervical stenosis. The extra 120+pounds she is carrying on this spine is not helping the situation. When I told him this, he said they operate on many morbidly obese people.
    Her sister and niece both had stomach bypasses. They both are sick from it. Niece almost dies a few weeks ago from abdominal obstruction.
    I told her to get out of there as soon as infection is under control. Then rest at home, get more med opinions (we live 1/2 mile from hosp) and seek alternative therapies and see how numbness progresses.
    I want to thankt you again for taking the time to reply.
    --Alan
    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 10-18-2009 at 01:12 AM. Reason: Removed personal e-mail address.

  4. #4
    Alan, it is not wise to post your personal e-mail address on a public forum like this as it leaves you very open to spammers and scammers. If anyone here wants to contact you, you can turn on the personal e-mail option, which allows people to e-mail you but not get your address.

    Remember that if you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Surgical residents do surgery...that is what they want and need to do. They have to do a certain number of certain surgeries to complete their residency, so of course they are encouraging surgical options only. Again, I would strongly recommend that you and your wife speak to the ATTENDING physician and get at least one other opinion at a different hospital from another attending before making any decision to have surgery.

    (KLD)

  5. #5

    We will get other opinions

    Wife will speak to the ATTENDING physician and get at least one other opinion at a different hospital before making any decision to have surgery. Thanks again for your replies.
    --Alan

  6. #6

    SECOND Surgical Resident visit.

    I visited her again today. I was there in the evening when the SECOND Surgical Resident came to visit. He also painted the spinal operation as routine, with easy recovery. He also seemed to be a 'salesman" for rushing into spinal surgery not taking time to seek other opinions.
    She has still has some numbness in her hands but had NO trouble grasping and squeezing the hand of the MD as he examined her reflexes. She is ambulatory, and has NO other pain in hands or arms associated with the Cervical stenosis. I told him the extra 120+pounds she is carrying on this spine is not helping. He didn't think that was much of an issue.
    They have scared her into thinking that her hands wil get more numb and she will lose use of her hands. This will not happen in a week or a few weeks.


    I told her to get discharged as infection is under control. Then rest at home, get more med opinions and see how numbness progresses. THEN she can make a decision about this dangerous and risky spinal surgery.
    The Neruosurgery team has found a patient to practice on. The risk of spinal surgery is FAR GREATER than going home, resting and recovering from a week+ in hospital-no sleep, IV drugs, etc. and getting more opinions, then making such a decison.

  7. #7
    it would not say a SIGNIFICANT risk of surgery causing paralysis - more like a rare but possible complication.

  8. #8

    Marilyn had the C3-C7 surgery on Nov 12.

    Have been out of touch since Marilyn had the surgery on Nov 12. They did C3--C7! Four levels, laminectomy, foraminectomy with spinal fusion. Titanium plate with 10 screws! Surgery went well, but recovery is the worst nightmare of our lives.
    She was in Rehab 79 days. They sent her home with a commode in a diaper unable to walk to bathroom. Long story. After 2 weeks of this she went back in Rehab. Now she is going to the bathroom in Rehab. Walking part way, riding wheelchair part way.
    They put a raised toilet seat so she can get to the bathroom on her own, even though officially she is on "one person assisted transfer".
    Just getting out of a diaper is the transition to being a person again. Recovery will take months. She is still weak when standing and needs rest. Taking much less pain med, sometimes none for 12+ hours.
    I feel such terrible sadness for her. Still, she is upbeat and is committed to making a good recovery and coming home. She says" "Everything will be OK, we'll be retired." Before she can come home, I will have to completely rearrange apartment for her to get around and get to bathroom at night. Sell some furniture, buy some furniture, move some furniture.
    Sorry for being out of touch so long. Thanks to all for their support.
    --Alan
    Last edited by Alanem; 03-03-2010 at 02:55 AM. Reason: error

  9. #9
    Hang in there!
    Ugh, I've been kissed by a dog!
    Get some hot water, get some iodine ...
    -- Lucy VanPelt

  10. #10
    Senior Member WarrenJ's Avatar
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    Respectfully..She is blessed. Tell her keep her head up and work hard. Remember some people in this forum have no control of their bowel or bladder it will get better.
    Appreciate the small gains and the large ones will be ignored!!

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