Fall 2011 Issue
Preventing Paralysis And Death By
Spinal infections are challenging to diagnose because back pain is usually the only initial symptom. When other symptoms do emerge, such as limb weakness, fever, and heart arrhythmia, their onset is very rapid. The following case study is a prime example of how quickly a spinal infection can become critical and demonstrates the need for decisive action when it comes to spinal infections.
“Dr. Deshmukh saved my life,” said Susan McClung when describing her ordeal that began last fall. “I went to the emergency room in critical shape. My back had hurt for a month, but all of a sudden it literally felt like I had been hit by a train. The pain was excruciating.”
An MRI revealed a staph infection that included a spinal epidural abscess in her lumbar area. This explained Susan’s intense back pain, heart arrhythmia, loss of movement in her leg, and incoherent speech.
Everything medically possible was tried in the emergency department to treat the infection, but an MRI showed that the abscess was rapidly worsening. The hospital ED staff contacted Dr. Deshmukh to determine if a surgical solution was possible. If left untreated, the infection would most likely have resulted to paralysis and death.
Susan underwent surgery to drain the infection and remove dead tissue, bone, and cartilage. She was then put on antibiotics. After four days, she started to regain normal function in her legs.
Just three weeks after leaving the hospital, Susan returned to work. She received ongoing physical therapy services at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates in order to help her regain all motor capabilities and retrain her back muscles. Six months after her surgery, Susan has fully recovered and is able to work, run, and continue to rescue dogs through the Tri-County Animal Rescue.
“The surgery was truly miraculous,” said Susan. “Now I feel like nothing happened, and yet I could have died or been bound to a wheelchair.”
To learn more about spine care and physical therapy services at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, call 800-344-6716.
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