Nurse Jeanne Reeves is back in the game after a minimally invasive TLIF at Methodist Mansfield relieved her back pain
As the chief nursing officer (CNO) at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, Jeanne Reeves, BSN, MS, knows what excellent health care should look like. She just didn’t expect to be on the receiving end of it back in early April, when a normal day at the office took a painful turn for the worse.
“I had just completed a conference call and went to stand up, and I could not stand and was in immense, extreme pain,” she says.
Reeves, who had two partial diskectomy procedures 20 years ago, chalked up the back pain to overextending herself.
She went home, rested, took some ibuprofen, and figured she’d be better the next day. She figured wrong. The pain was actually worse, radiating down her right leg and causing numbness and loss of strength in that limb. Her primary care provider referred her straight to the emergency department at Methodist Mansfield.
“It was determined that I had four levels of my spine that were herniated pretty significantly,” says Reeves, who was admitted to the hospital that day and placed under the care of Richard Meyrat, MD, independently practicing neurosurgeon on the hospital’s medical staff. “I know the caliber of Dr. Meyrat’s work. He’s not going to rush into surgery; he’s going to look at all the options.”
Dr. Meyrat wanted to first try a conservative treatment approach: steroid injection. When it failed to relieve Reeves’ pain, surgery was the best course of action.
One week after Reeves’ pain started, Dr. Meyrat performed a minimally invasive procedure called TLIF (transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion). During the procedure, the surgeon removes most of the damaged disk and inserts bone graft material to raise the top vertebra so it is no longer pinching the nerve roots. He then places small screws and rods in both vertebrae to hold them in place and adds more bone grafting material, which forms a bone bridge, or fusion, to connect the vertebrae. (Watch an animation of the TLIF procedure.)
“The bone can take time to fuse, but once it does, the pain will go away,” Dr. Meyrat says.
In the meantime, Reeves started experiencing relief on day 1, and she went home on day 3. She says: “The night of surgery, I was standing at the bedside. The day after surgery, I was sitting up in a chair and walking in the hall. The pain improved immediately.”
Impressed with her team at Methodist Mansfield
Compared to her past surgeries, for which recovery was three months, Reeves was back to work only seven weeks after her TLIF, prouder than ever of the professionals she leads.
“It can be intimidating to take care of your boss, but I can truly say that from the emergency department to the procedural areas, the staff was phenomenal,” she says.
“It made me proud to be a nurse and to be a part of this organization with the care they provided me.”
Minimally invasive: It’s how we operate
“When it comes to back surgery, we always strive for a minimally invasive solution for people’s pain,” says Richard Meyrat, MD, independently practicing neurosurgeon on the Methodist Mansfield Medical Center medical staff. Here are just a few reasons why:
The 1½-inch incision reduces the patient’s pain, blood loss, and risk for infection.
Muscle is dilated rather than cut, resulting in less pain and a faster recovery.
The surgeon can circumvent scar tissue from past surgeries. “Working with healthy tissue makes the surgery safer and more reliable,” he says.
From the fall 2012 edition of Shine magazine.