Spinal Champion®: A Mother Gets Her Life Back

Silvana Masood had known about spinal disease for years having watched her husband go through physical therapy, spinal injections, and pain medications with little benefit. When he eventually underwent spinal fusion surgery with excellent results, she became a believer.

Silvana first came to The Virginia Spine Institute in 2008. She was experiencing disabling low back pain with both pain and numbness in her entire right leg. The pain had been bothering her intermittently for the past ten years, but she had never really sought medical attention until years later when her pain progressively worsened.

On initial evaluation, Silvana had tremendous low back pain and tenderness overlying multiple joints of her lumbar spine. There was muscle spasm and numbness in her entire right leg. She was prescribed physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications for the pain and numbness while considering her options for her lumbar degenerative disc disease.

The MRI scan that she had in 2008 demonstrated one disc showing signs of moderate degeneration without any compression of the sciatic nerves. She continued to maintain her core strength and took anti-inflammatories, dealing with the pain fairly well until she had her daughter. Both the pregnancy and the child care significantly worsened her pain.

She found that not only her life, but also her career and her family were being affected by the pain. In discussions with her husband, she decided to undergo spinal fusion. An updated MRI scan demonstrated worsening of the disease at L5/S1, with progressive loss of height and bone spur formation. She had clearly done everything possible to avoid surgery.

In April 2012, she underwent anterior lumbar interbody fusion at L5/S1. Two large LT cages were placed through a small abdominal incision into her L5/S1 disc space. (Figure 3) Those cages restored the height and posture of the disc space and gave it immediate stability. There had been such collapse at the disc space that the cages wedged firmly in place, obviating the need for any further surgery. (Figure 2) At her follow-up visit two weeks after surgery, her pain level was down to a two (on a scale from one to ten), and she had noticed an immediate difference.

She felt that her spine was stronger, her leg symptoms had resolved, and she was ready to begin physical therapy. Silvana is presented as a Spinal Champion® because she had lived with degenerative lumbar disc disease for a decade. When things finally worsened despite nonoperative care, she decided to do something about it.

With a minimally invasive intervention, instead of being disabled by pain, she now has her career, her life, and her family back.