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 (http://www.SRS.org). 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