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Thomas’ Kyphoplasty Revision Story

Posted on: May 9th, 2022 by Our Team

In July of 2019, while at my cardiologist, I explained that I had been having severe ankle pain in the morning.  He suggested an autoimmune workup with a rheumatologist. (I am a 9/11 First Responder, certified for asbestos, pericarditis, and asthma.)  By September 2019, the pain had increased, causing difficulty in walking.  I first saw an orthopedic doctor in October 2019.  Xrays were negative until an MRI later in the month revealed a fracture of L-2 vertebrae.  The doctor’s course of action was to see if the fracture would heal on its own.

By December, the pain had increased significantly, and a new MRI indicated vertebrae was collapsing, causing pain as well as loss of height.  It was not until I had a met with another doctor, who performed a kyphoplasty that the issue of osteoporosis was addressed due to no trauma causing my fracture and 5 years of daily steroid inhaler for asthma. Following the December surgery, I was sent for a bone scan, which revealed a 3.7 reading. The pain after surgery increased with spasms and being unable to move or get off the floor until the pain subsided. Despite telling my original orthopedic doctor of this unbearable pain, he indicated it was post op pain. He finally relented and sent me for an MRI in February 202, which indicated osteomyelitis.

Emergency surgery

Emergency surgery was performed in March 2020 and included placement of hardware and loss of bone from the spine. The doctor explained some of the screws did not fully attach due to loss of bone density.  I went home with drains in my back and a pic line for two months for daily infusions and a lifetime of daily antibiotics. I was found to be permanently disabled from my job in August 2020 and was told by my ortho that “I would know every day that I had something done to me.” After experiencing discomfort for months, I saw a World Trade Center orthopedic rehabilitation doctor at NYU, who pointed out that my hardware screws were loose and to go back to the ortho.  The ortho explained that i had to expect this outcome due to having weak bone density. A second MRI revealed the opposite side hardware now loose, which he stated that I could come back in 6 months to see if I wanted surgery to correct it.

Over two years of frustration led me to Dr. Girardi

This culmination of nearly two years of frustration led me to Dr. Girardi. After my first visit, I walked out of his office feeling he understood and really listened. I finally had a good plan of action. He explained that in order to go forward, I would have to take a daily injection of Forteo to make the bones strong. Otherwise, the revision surgery he suggested would not be successful. Having had two previous back surgeries in a 21-month span I was looking towards this new surgery with Dr. Girardi with confidence in his ability to improve my spine and quality of life. My surgery and post op experience at HSS was positive. I finally had a plan of action with Dr. Girardi who listened to me without rushing out the door to the next patient. His staff was very professional and compassionate, could be reached for questions and always returned my calls or emails. Dr Girardi has since taken me off the antibiotics, helped me get certified through the world trade center for steroid induced osteoporosis. He even said the new hardware which he completely replaced due to them being loose, could come out in a year if I wanted to. This experience led me to realize not all Dr’s are the same and how important issues of the spine are when choosing a doctor. I feel if i went to Dr. Girardi first the issue and treatment of the osteoporosis would be addressed immediately and the outcome would have been different, I am grateful for his expertise and direction.

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