Rebuilt Spine Gives Teen Confidence
December 16, 2020
Tony gained confidence (and three inches in height) after undergoing an intense, 12-hour surgery to correct his forward and sideways spinal curvatures.
A triplet and lifelong patient of UH Rainbow, Tony was the only of his siblings diagnosed with congenital kyphosis and scoliosis as a baby. His condition wasn’t painful and didn’t hold him back from anything. But the more he grew, the more noticeable his hump became.
Tony first met Michael Glotzbecker, MD, UH Rainbow’s Chief of Pediatric Orthopedics, last fall. “He talked to me and my parents for at least two hours,” Tony says. “He was so down-to-earth and confident in his ability to help me. I always knew that if I waited until adulthood, the recovery would likely be longer and more difficult. Ultimately my decision came down to a bigger risk with a bigger reward.”
After hours of research, and with unwavering support from his parents and brother and sister, Tony made the brave decision to undergo a vertebral column resection or VCR. He would be the first teen in Northeast Ohio to undergo such a procedure.
Dr. Glotzbecker partnered with Christopher Furey, MD, Chief of the Spine Center at UH Cleveland Medical Center, to rebuild Tony’s spine. The surgery involved two foot-long titanium rods, 16 screws and an expandable mesh cage to remove the curvature from the base of Tony’s spinal cord and the hump from his upper back. The goal of the VCR is for pieces of bone to grow within and around the cage, eventually encasing it in new bone and bridging the gap in the spine where it once curved.
The surgery was a great success, and Tony was discharged from Rainbow a week later. Just two months after that, he was playing trumpet in the Medina High School marching band!