Ms. E.B.M first contacted us at the beginning of 2011 describing her problems and symptoms. Her diagnosis was severe foraminal stenosis syndrome and spondylolisthesis at levels L4-L5.
Foraminal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal foramen, the hole through which the spinal nerve passes as it exits the spine (foramen = opening, hole). It is usually a form of degenerative spine disease that occurs slowly over time with wear and tear of the spinal column. Arthritic changes of the spine, including herniated and bulging discs, soft tissue swelling, and bony growth can all impinge on the formal foramen and compress the nerve within.
Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips forward in relation to an adjacent vertebra, usually in the lumbar spine. The symptoms that accompany spondylolisthesis include pain in the low back, thighs, and/or legs, muscle spasms, weakness, and/or tight hamstring muscles.
Our patient described her back pain as the main problem, but also pain in her left leg. Here are the pain patterns:
As indicated above, her MRI had shown foraminal stenosis and grade 1 spondylolisthesis, visible at the MRI image below (click on the image to see it in full size).
Many doctors across Europe and Romania had recommended aggressive fusion surgery with instrumentation, but Ms. E.B.M. was not prepared for a big surgery, so she investigated online about the Coflex device and minimally invasive decompression surgery. Following extensive consultation with Dr. Robert Saftić, our spinal neurosurgeon, the patient agreed to minimally invasive decompression surgery (ligaments and some abnormal bone structures) in combination with the Coflex interspinous device.
The surgery itself was completely painless, however, the patient was in intense pain for the first 24 hours post-surgery. Every day since, her condition is improving and the pain gradually decreasing.
The patient was released from Vertebris International Spine Hospital the next morning with a post-operative lumbar brace. She left Croatia with a smile on her face. We are sure that she will continue smiling for the rest of her life, and that the decision to refuse fusion surgery was the right one!