University Hospital Sharjah (UHS), the leading healthcare provider in the emirate, announced that Fatima (name was change for confidentiality), a 40-year- old Emirati woman from Sharjah, has fully recovered from a spinal surgery to remove a dangerously-located tumour.
The patient was walking the very next day of the surgery and was then discharged two days later after full recovery.
Fatima visited several doctors, complaining about back pain and numbness in her legs with some difficulty in walking. The doctors diagnosed this as typical back pain and she was prescribed pain killers for that condition. When the conditioned worsened, she came to UHS to consult with Dr Nitin Yogesh, Consultant Neurosurgeon and Spine Surgeon.
“When I examined her, I found an abnormality, so we performed an MRI immediately. The results showed a large spinal tumour, involving nerves which allow the movement of her legs and control urine,” Dr Yogesh explained.
The tumour was located deep in her spinal cord intermixed with the nerves and measured three - by-two centimetres. However, the tumour was located in the main, vital areas of the spine. “
Although the tumour was very small, it had the risk of catastrophic consequences. Fatima described her thought process at the time: “When I found out about the spinal tumour, I was terrified that I would find it difficult to walk in the future.”
“We advised that surgery was necessary and informed her of all the risks. She was ready for it,” explained Dr Nitin Yogesh. “The surgery took just under SIX hours and the spinal tumour was removed through a minimally-invasive approach that uses an operating microscope. We had no complications and it was a monumental success; she was mobilised the following day.”
When this type of surgery is conventionally performed, it requires a large incision that leads to considerable blood loss. The surgery time is also longer and many complications can occur.
It is because of this terrifying reputation that many patients are deeply afraid of spinal surgeries.
A few years back, advanced instruments like the operating microscope were not available. As a result, nerve damage was prevalent during the surgeries themselves.
“Spinal surgeries were once dreadful both for the patients and the surgeons because there was no certainty about the result. We could successfully remove the tumour but the risk of paralysis was very high.”
Dr Yogesh clarified, “Now, we have nerve-monitoring systems which can tell us the precise locations of the nerves and if they have been cut or damaged. Our advanced techniques and endoscopes substantially reduce the size of incisions and more importantly, make this surgery very safe.” Patients often believe that it takes several weeks to recover from spinal surgery but this is the past.
“Here at UHS, we often get our patients mobilised the next day. Fatima was hosptialised on Sunday. On Monday we performed the surgery. Incredibly, she was walking on Tuesday and we monitored her for another day, after complete satisfaction she was released on Thursday.”
Back pain and neck pain are incredibly common and will affect nearly everyone in the latter part of their lives.
However, even young people consult with Dr Nitin Yogesh because of job-related pain or stress due to body positions while using the phone or computers.
The aforementioned examples are more degenerative problems which are different than tumours.
“I knew that it wasn’t the usual back pain because I started losing feeling in my legs. Thankfully, Dr Yogesh discovered the tumour and advised me through the whole process. When he told me that this procedure is much safer now, I calmed down,” Fatima recounted. “I want to thank Dr Yogesh and everyone at UHS.”
It is not yet clear why these spinal tumours develop but they can occur in both children and adults.
While it is suspected that defective genes play a role, it is uncertain whether they are inherited, occur spontaneously or are caused by something in the environment, such as exposure to certain chemicals.
In some cases, however, spinal cord tumours are linked to known inherited syndromes, such as neurofibromatosis 2 and von Hippel-Lindau disease.