Revision Surgery: Transforming Lives of Patients with Spinal Deformities

For Lynda Cavanaugh and Trudy Smith, revision spine surgery has provided the chance to live a normal life— a dream both had given up hoping was possible.

Living with Chronic Back Pain

At 62, Lynda had suffered from severe back problems for many years and had undergone several spine surgeries elsewhere in Colorado. Yet her back had become so hunched over that her lungs were compromised. She developed gastric reflux, and she could not walk to the mailbox without difficulty. After her doctors twice failed in their attempts to fuse additional discs, they gave up  trying to treat her. They sent her home and told her that her problem was "cosmetic."

Trudy Smith experienced a similar failure to find relief after an accident at work led to excruciating, unremitting pain in her back. Multiple surgeries, attempts at pain management, physical therapy, steroids, nerve blocks—all proved useless. Her condition deteriorated so badly that her slender, 5'11'' frame grew hunched over "like I was 80," she says. Only in her late 20’s, Trudy could barely walk, and at times, her mother had to help move her from the couch to use the restroom. For more than seven years, daily life was reduced to "a horrible experience," she recalls.

"Before my surgery with Dr. Jamrich, I had given up. I assumed I would live in extreme pain for the rest of my life. After surgery I felt instant relief, and I am actually starting to get my life back. Now, I have so much hope."—Trudy Smith

Revision Surgery Specialist Dr. Eric Jamrich, Denver, Colorado

After considering specialists across the country, both Trudy and Lynda chose to work with Dr. Eric Jamrich at Sky Ridge Medical Center. Dr. Jamrich performed  revision surgery on Lynda in October 2008, and Trudy in January 2009. In Lynda's case, the goal of surgery was to correct her forward-leaning posture (kyphosis). In Trudy's, Dr. Jamrich aimed to correct both scoliosis, a sideways-leaning of the spine, and kyphosis.

Trudy's relief was dramatic and immediate. Her pain virtually gone, she has regained her full height, she can walk normally, and perhaps most importantly, she has returned to a normal life. Lynda also has regained her posture and her ability to function. "Dr. Jamrich fixed everything," says Lynda, who now stands straight and is free from the reflux and breathing problems she had endured for so long. Lynda says, simply, "He is my hero."

Revision Surgery Explained

Tennis Player

Revision surgery corrects the results of a prior procedure that had been inadequately or improperly performed. Because of the outstanding results achieved by Dr. Jamrich and his colleagues, revision surgery attracts many people to the Rocky Mountain Spine Clinic at Sky Ridge, where people with complex and challenging spinal problems now come from across the Rocky Mountain region.

In fact, Sky Ridge’s spine surgical volumes exceed those of all other hospitals in Colorado, and its team of surgeons includes nationally recognized specialists in every area of spine and joint surgery, including minimally invasive spine and neurosurgery.

"Revision surgery is complex, and patients who need it should seek the expertise of surgeons who specialize in it," says Susan Hicks, RN, Chief Operating Officer at Sky Ridge Medical Center.

According to Dr. Jamrich, "We take care of many serious, life limiting problems that prevent people from working or functioning. We perform minimally invasive procedures for many young patients who want to maintain active, athletic lifestyles. And we do a high volume of revision surgery to repair things after surgery did not go well elsewhere."

Spinal Revision Surgery Before and After Images