71-year-old Ethiopian regains mobility after minimally invasive spine surgery - ‘3 procedures in one’ 01-06-2023 12:00 AM Share

A 71-year-old Ethiopian national Mrs. Tadelech Bekele Safo successfully returned to her routine lifestyle after undergoing ‘3 simultaneous procedures in one’ minimal invasive surgery at Fakeeh University Hospital’s Surgical Institute

Mrs. Safo, experienced severe pain in her legs and lower back, causing extreme discomfort and impaired walking. After a teleconsultation with Dr. Tommaso Tufo, Lead Consultant Neurosurgeon – Brain & Spine, Mrs. Safo was brought to UAE by her son to undergo spinal surgeries.

Precise diagnosis by Dr. Tufo helped identify multiple vertebral collapse and severe lumbar issue (stenosis) that caused compression of the nerves in her lower back & legs.

“Initially I considered my pain and aches to be a normal part of aging. However, the pain kept progressing and hindering my daily activities. It became painful for me to even walk. I was in extreme discomfort, and it was my son who suggested I get consultation to seek permanent cure. At one point, I thought I would not walk again, however after the surgery now I am very relieved. I could walk with minimal support and pain soon after surgery. The pain and discomfort I experienced limited my activities, but now I am starting to feel more independent,” said an elated Mrs. Safo.

During the pre-operative assessment, it was discovered that Mrs. Safo had atypical Anemia and an MRI scan of the spine confirmed multiple vertebral fractures and severe stenosis of the vertebral canal.

She underwent one surgery, but 3 procedures were performed to manage her condition – a minimally invasive lumbar (Spinal Canal) decompression* and foraminotomy, bone biopsy and Vertebroplasty*.

At the age of 71 undergoing spinal surgery was a very difficult decision that Mrs. Safo & her family made to help her manage her long troubling pain. Her underlying issues such as Anemia, which was unidentified until her consultation with Dr. Tufo & aging related issues further made this an extremely challenging and unique case.
“Mrs. Safo suffered from severe degenerative conditions of the spine. These conditions could occur in older patients with other comorbidities; however, the exact cause is still unidentified. In this case, the vertebral collapse could have been caused due to her underlying condition of osteoporosis or anemia due to hematologic conditions,” said Dr. Tommaso Tufo, Lead Consultant Neurosurgeon at Fakeeh University Hospital.

Mrs. Safo recovered well after the strenuous surgeries and experienced immediate improvement in her pain levels. In less than 12 hours, post-surgery, she was able to walk and move around. In no time, after taking treatments for her other conditions, Mrs. Safo will be going back home to Ethiopia to unite with the rest of her family and continue medical therapy there basis the biopsy results. Having experienced pain and suffering for years together, Mrs. Safo & her family are excited to gain back the time they missed together.

Fakeeh University Hospital’s Surgical Institute offers a multidisciplinary approach to manage complex cases, like this. The joint team approach by the hospital’s skilled and experienced surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, interventional radiologists, technicians & support staff help in precise diagnosis, faster recovery & better outcomes.

More about the health conditions
*Spinal canal stenosis happens when the space inside the backbone is too small. This can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck. The condition most commonly occurs in people over the age of 50. However, people who are born with a narrow spinal canal can also develop spinal stenosis. Treatment options include physical therapy, medications, injections, and surgery. A Neurosurgeon can best advice on treatment options depending on the severity of the condition. Surgery can create more space inside the spine. This can ease the symptoms caused by pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Spinal canal decompression is a minimally invasive technique, performed to reduce the compression on the spinal nerve.  It can be performed through new minimal invasive and endoscopic techniques as well, for reduced the post operative pain and faster recovery.

*Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) occur when the vertebral body in the spine collapses, which can lead to severe pain, deformity and loss of height. These fractures occur most commonly in the thoracic spine (the middle portion of the spine), especially in the lower part. There are surgical and non-surgical management options for treating vertebral collapse.  Mrs. Safo, given her age and the multiple conditions she suffered from, experienced symptoms that disrupted her routine life. In such cases immediate surgical intervention is the way to go. A vertebroplasty involves injection of bone cement directly into the vertebral body to relieve the pain and enhance healing.

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