Medical Minute: Spinal Correction

By: Jennifer Matthews
By: Jennifer Matthews

Darlene Holloway had a tougher time in high school than many of her peers, but it wasn't because of her grades.

"It was just extremely painful to walk," she says. The only way I could, you know, describe it was that my rib cage was sitting on top of my pelvis."

Spondyloptosis is a severe deformity that this father-son team of surgeons says is difficult to correct with standard surgeries.

"Those leave the patient with a residual deformity, which may result in not only a limited cosmetic result, but also a higher risk that they're going to have continued problems with their back," says Dr. Charles Edwards, II.

Dr. Charles Edwards pioneered a detailed surgery to fix the deformity.

"It takes a great deal of patience to do this procedure," Dr. Edwards adds.

In a surgery that takes about ten hours, Dr. Edwards uses these tools to stretch the ligaments and pull the spine upright. He also stretches the nerves.

"I found that to a remarkable extent, they can accommodate several inches of lengthening."

He compares the surgery to the eastern philosophy of gardening.

"I see the same ropes and stakes pushing trees to create the shapes the gardener wants. It added some inches, of course, to me and it also relieved the pain."

At twenty-nine, this college student says she doesn't even notice the hardware in her back.

For more information, contact:

Charles Edwards II
The Maryland Spine Center

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