March 28, 2016

Urgent Spine Surgery Spells Relief for La Marca Patient

(mirrored from UM Heath Blogs)

When his doctors asked Samuel Jones to rate his back and spine pain on a scale from 1 to 10, he said it was 15 to 20. And it’s no surprise. Jones, a retired patent agent from Midland, Michigan, had had an operation to repair a ruptured disc in 1974 with no further problems. Then, when he came back in 2014 from a wonderful vacation with his family in Hawaii, everything was different.

“I went from a little pain now and then to excruciating pain,” Jones says. He couldn’t walk without help. He couldn’t go up or down stairs. To make matters worse, it was hard to diagnose his problem because his previous quadruple bypass and pacemaker prevented an MRI. 

Betty & Preston Jones
In December 2016, Samuel Jones and his wife Betty celebrated the one-year anniversary of his spine surgery and his 80th birthday—pain free.

A CT myelogram, which uses dye, revealed that he had very serious spinal stenosis—a condition caused by a narrowing of the space surrounding the spinal cord or nerves. Jones’s primary care physician referred him to a local surgeon who wasn’t available to do the surgery. Instead, that surgeon referred Jones to University of Michigan’s Dr. Frank LaMarca.

“I’m so glad he did,” Jones said. “I had been treated by four different specialists without any relief. When Dr. LaMarca saw the original myelogram he said, ‘I think there are more problems in the upper back, and I think you need to have another myelogram.’”

Dr. LaMarca says, “Mr. Jones was found to have two large anterior masses compressing his spinal cord at two different levels. Although pain was his major complaint, his degree of spinal cord compression and neurological deficit put him at an impending risk for irreversible paralysis. The repeat CT myelogram at U-M allowed us to better assess the extent of his lesions and plan the urgent surgery appropriately.”

Jones says, “He took one look at the X-rays, and said, ‘We’ll operate tomorrow.’”

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