Spine Surgery Fixes Collapsed Spine: December 21, 2011

For four months Dale Conder battles an aggressive staff infection.

“Which ultimately got into my spine and pretty much destroyed two, three sections of my spine.”

While doctors attacked the stubborn infection with drugs, his condition continued to get worse.

“They transported me to the hospital on May the second. I had no feeling from my waist down I couldn’t feel my legs,” says Dale.

“I first met him in the emergency room. He came in with what we consider a true neurosurgical emergency. The concern was at any point he would essentially not be able to use his legs at all and that obviously could become permanent problem,” says Dr. Jeffrey Henn, a neurosurgeon with Lee Memorial Health System.

It crossed Dale’s mind that he might never walk again. After arriving here on a stretcher, he immediately underwent a two-part operation.

“The first part involved decompressing the spinal cord and that’s called a laminectomy. In this case a thoracic laminectomy where we remove some of the bone that’s causing the spinal cord to get compressed. And then because the problem was the spine was physically collapsing down, we actually had to do a big operation at the same time called an instrumented fusion,” says Dr. Henn.

After a nine-hour surgery, Dale’s spine was restored with rods and screws. Question was, how much damage was done, and would he walk again?

“The early returns were dramatic. He was certainly starting to move his legs better even the day after surgery,” says Dr. Henn.

“I could wiggle my toes everybody was just jumping around like a miracle had just happened,” says Dale.

You would never guess the path it took to get here. Dale Conder is now a walking wonder.