Sunday, October 27, 2013

Does it make sense to travel to get my scoliosis surgery? 26 yo Kellie, from West Hartford, CT comes to Hey Clinic, Raleigh NC.

This past Tuesday we took care of Kellie and her mom from West Hartford, CT.  Kellie is 26, and has had an adolescent scoliosis which has progressed and become painful as an adult.  She flew down for a consultation a few months back, which is actually very easy to do since Hey Clinic is only about 15-20 minutes from RDU airport.  After doing her research, she chose to come back to Raleigh to have her surgery done here.  She actually had a significant kyphosis as well as scoliosis, so we fixed both.  Her surgery went well, and her mom was able to hang out in her large private room during the surgery, with no ICU stay needed.  She did well with her physical therapy, and loves her new posture!!  She is anxious to see how much taller she is, and her posture is now well centered, with the large trunk shift and hump gone, and her shoulders back where they belong.  On Friday, postop day 3, her and her mom flew back to Hartford, CT doing very well.  Here we are on Friday before she headed out that day, with her X-Rays taped to the window behind us!

Kellie will be mailing us X-Rays in about 6 weeks.  We don't require folks from out of state to come back, but just get X-Rays done locally, and stay in touch via internet and phone.  Folks often do choose to fly down (or up.. or sideways!) to see us postop, possibly tying it in with other travel for vacation to the Outer Banks or mountains, or college shopping here in the Triangle (Duke, UNC, and NC State!)  More and more I am setting up regional visits to see my patients close to where they live, with a flight and visit planned this November for a few patients in the Philadelphia and Washington, DC area.  

Interestingly enough, right after I finished Kellie's surgery, I saw a nice young lady who just flew in from Atlanta in consultation for her scoliosis, in need of possibly a revision instrumentation and fusion. She was very glad she made the trip, and flew home after her consultation, deciding to have her scoliosis surgery done with us later this year.  

Does it make sense to get on an airplane to go and have your scoliosis/kyphosis fixed or to get another opinion?  I think it is a personal decision.  Our Hey Clinic and Duke Raleigh Hospital Team really enjoys caring for families who travel to see us like Kellie and Kate from Hartford, CT,  Benjamin and his family from Baton Rouge, LA, Molly from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Amanda from Philadelphia, PA,  Lexi from Baltimore, MD, Kelli from Tampa, FL, Sarah and her dad Ken from New York City, and many more from Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina.... all over!  With a lot of focused effort and practice,  we have gotten quite good at helping make such "long distance relationships" work out, utilizing the internet, Skype, mobile phones, mailed CD's with images, as well as helping with travel arrangements through RDU Airport which is 15-20 minutes from Hey Clinic.   During the last 3-4 years, I have even been known to make some "house calls" to visit with patients and their families, flying to their hometowns for preop or postop consultations, and sometimes giving them a ride home after surgery via the the faster, smoother airways! Our airplane, while not a super-fast jet, is a very safe economical 4 seater  Cirrus SR22 (with its own parachute!) , which definitely cuts down the distance between me and my patients and referring physicians, especially across the southeast and east coast. 

However, there are certainly plenty of good scoliosis surgeons and centers out there across the United States and around the world-- many of them are friends/colleagues of mine through the Scoliosis Research Society (   Each surgeon, with his or her scoliosis center and hospital team has its own special character and "feel" --- you have to find which one is best fit for you, and/or for your child/adolescent.  Certainly many of us choose to travel for all sorts of vacation / recreational reasons --- some of our guests just feel more peaceful having our team care for them here in Raleigh at Hey Clinic.  Our clinic and adjoining Duke Raleigh Hospital staff as well as the staff at WakeMed Children's Hospital (for the smaller children we treat) are certainly used to serving our out of state guests and making it as pleasant and hassle-free experience as possible.  

I know Kellie and her mom were so happy they made the trip:  she got what she came for -- an awesome correction, a safe and effective surgery, and a lot of compassionate care from an experienced team in a friendly environment.  

Dr. Lloyd Hey
Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Catching Up -- Patient Videos, and a visit to Baton Rouge, LA to meet with parents of one of our adolescent scoliosis patients.

At the end of last week, I traveled to New Orleans for the North American Spine Society (NASS) meeting down in New Orleans, and then got a chance to have lunch with Benjamin's parents in Baton Rouge, LA.  Benjamin is one of our adolescent scoliosis patients, who is now off to college in Texas doing very well.  It was so nice to see Mark and Rachel, and get a chance to visit their hometown for the first time.  Then, it was on my way back to RDU, Raleigh and Hey Clinic!  Thanks again Mark and Rachel for a lovely visit.

Sunset flying back from Baton Rouge, LA

We saw Amy and her mom back in clinic for her 6 week postop visit.  For those who have been following the blog, you will remember Amy as the 19 yo young lady who needed a revision kyphoscoliosis surgery performed for severe pain and residual spinal deformity.  We performed a thoracolumbar revision surgery for her, including using a special sublaminar fixation system at the top of her fusion which is less invasive.  She came into clinic with her mom Liz with a big smile, and a wonderful new posture.  I revised her old scar as well, so even the incision looks much better.

We saw a bunch of other postops as well, beyond the many adolescents and younger adults who were seen for conservative f/u for scoliosis evaluation and possible bracing.

Ann below is a nurse from Wilmington, NC.  She had "wicked bad" flat back syndrome as shown below, having had a previous lumbar fusion and severe disc collapse, and stenosis.  

We were able to get her straightened up nicely with an anterior L5S1 ALIF, followed by a posterior multilevel laminectomy and osteotomies and removal of the old hardware.  She came in for her 6 week postop visit yesterday with a big smile, and a nice straight posture, off all her pain medications.  She is getting back to work and back to life!
Ann shares some thoughts here in this short YouTube Clip.  

Here are some other clips from some returning patients on Friday, each of whom was also back for their 6 week postop visit.  

Andrea was back for her 6 week postop visit after having a double curve adolescent idiopathic scoliosis years before that progressed and became very painful.  Her story is shared below.

This gentleman had a revision thoracolumbar iliac wing instrumentation and fusion performed a year ago, and is doing very well.  He had a pseudarthrosis and spinal stenosis and has done very well postop.  As you can see, he is quite a big guy, making me look like his little brother!! 
 One of the unique things about Hey Clinic is that we have created a custom information system to help us ensure quality care for all of our guests and families.  We actually have a full-time programmer who is continually improving our systems, and also helps mentor IT students who will work in our office as a part of their training and work experience.  Austin shares in this YouTube video an iPad application he helped create that allows point of service data collection at a local church --- a volunteer project he did to help learn how to create simple database applications on the iPad.  Strong work Austin!  

I've got much more to share, but the hour is growing late, and I have a very large scoliosis surgery planned for tomorrow 7:15am on a lady who had a fracture dislocation as a young teenager, ejected from a car and unfortunately was paralyzed in the lower extremities.  She now has a progressive spinal deformity and severe pain and trouble sitting up in her wheelchair.  Although her motor system to the legs are out, she still has sensation, and has significant pain.

After a very busy couple of weeks with surgery and travel, it was great to take a little time off this afternoon and take a walk through the woods with our dogs.  Above is my artistic shot of the day, watching the peaceful water streaming down a small waterfall.  The blue in the water is a reflection of the beautiful Carolina blue sky up above.  Some fresh air and time with family is good for the soul, and helps get me fired up for the week ahead.

Dr. Lloyd Hey
Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fwd: Present from cookie daddy as thank you

-Received this awesome gift of cookies from, the gourmet cookie company owned by one of my recent spondylolisthesis surgery patients and her husband.

Yummy!!! Our whole clinic and several clinic patients enjoyed this wonderful treat, and we appreciated the thoughtful card

Dr. Lloyd Hey --- Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery
--------- Forwarded message ----------

Date: Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 2:27 PM
Subject: Present from cookie daddy as thank you
To: Lloyd Hey <

Fwd: Thank you 😘

Got this message today from one of our adult deformity postop patients, who answers the question:  "Can I race a Porsche sportscar after major spinal reconstructive surgery!! 

Dr. Lloyd Hey -- Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery --

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Susan H
Date: Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Subject: Thank you 😘
To: Lloyd Hey <>

Went to the Driving School last week in Birmingham. Took Katherine to this  for a big Mother/Daughter birthday present. Both of us got our course completion certificate!  Zoom-zoom......and thank you.  It was a super thrill!     and...... My back feels great!
Pinehurst, NC

Monday, October 7, 2013

Can I get a good correction of my scoliosis in my 50's? When does pain develop after adolescent scoliosis? Can I prevent bigger future surgeries fixing scoliosis surgery in younger years? Scoliosis Surgery Recovery

Pam shares on video at Hey Clinic this Friday her scoliosis journey since adolescence through adulthood as she developed progressive pain, and then shares her story of her decision for and recovery from scoliosis surgery.

This past week I have been interacting with several families with an adolescent with a thoracolumbar curve, and wondering about long-term consequences.  I saw a very nice family from Charlotte, NC in particular who had a lot of excellent questions about potential surgery for their daughter, and have been in ongoing email communication with this girl's dad as they seek to do what is best for their daughter in the long run.  Pam's story is one potential track that could hold for patients with adolescent scoliosis, especially with the lower thoracolumbar curve, which have a bigger effect on the lumbar spine with potential collapse and progressive degeneration and pain.  
Over the weekend, I've been in email contact with a 33 yo woman from Houston Texas who shared her story of curve progression from the 30's now into the 40's with her thoracolumbar curve now after pregnancy, where surgery has been recommended.  In her case, she could get her scoliosis repaired with possible fusion down to L3, sparing the lower lumbar area, realigning the loads on the low back before the bottom discs are badly damaged.  As you can see in Pam's X-Ray above, I had to fuse across those levels, down to the iliac wing -- not the end of the world, but a bigger surgery, and possibly preventable if realigned earlier in life.
Enjoy Pam's video, and other video's on the TheHeyClinic YouTube Channel!

Dr. Lloyd Hey
Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery  --- Hey Clinic for Scoliosis and Spine Surgery

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Haley Scott DeMaria's Recovery Story -- my book gift from her after Madeline's Surgery!

Thanks for writing! I have your book next to my reading chair at home, and look forward to reading it.

I had major accident as a teenager as well, which definitely had big affect on path of my life -- something God has used for a greater good to serve others, better understanding the suffering and potential healing patients and families go through.   (Romans 8:28)
I will post your email on my blog, and direct our readers there as well.

Good to meet you and give our best to Madeline and family.

I will look forward to start reading your book this coming weekend when things slow down a bit!

Thanks for this nice gift.  Will take a look at your blog as well.

Dr. Hey

Hi Dr. Hey,

My name is Haley DeMaria. I am a friend of Nancy Wujek's - and we met the day Madeline had her surgery. I was with Nancy and Brett in Madeline's room.

Nancy shared with me both blogs you wrote about Madeline and her family. I thought I would share mine with you. I was with the Wujeks that day for many reasons - one of them being that I have had six back operations of my own, and Nancy was with me through all of them. 

About five years ago I wrote a book about my experience. Nancy has a copy for you. I think you will find it fascinating. I also know, for Madeline, it was helpful for her to read some of the physical details - as well as the emotional details of what I went through.

I am so grateful for your talents and the gift you gave Madeline and her family. I love them as my own - and I know what a blessing it is to have a straight spine! I still keep in touch with my back surgeon - 21 years later - because I am so grateful for the difference he made in my life.

My very best to you,
Haley DeMaria

Haley Scott DeMaria
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