Back pain getting on your nerves?
PLIF and XLIF worked for Clark Crandall
Clark Crandall is just the man to call when the sink breaks or the fridge won’t give you any ice.
A true Mr. Fix-It, he dove into repairing a fixer-upper home he bought in Duncanville last Dec. 16.
By Dec. 22, I was absolutely on my back, writhing in pain,” Clark says. “I couldn’t sit, couldn’t eat, couldn’t get up. I was rolling on the carpet for so long that I developed scabs on my leg.”
The pain extended from the center of his back down through his left leg.
“It was so hard to watch,” Clark’s wife, Kathy, says.
On Dec. 28, Clark had his first appointment with neurosurgeon Michael Oh, MD, PhD, with the Methodist Brain and Spine Institute.
Dr. Oh observed that Clark had degenerative disk disease but referred him to pain specialist Trevor Kraus, MD, to try nonsurgical treatments first. However, the day before that appointment, Clark developed an acute foot drop in his left leg — a symptom that changed everything.
A turn for the worse
“The foot drop was a sign that his vertebrae weren’t just causing pain, but were also damaging the nerves,” Dr. Oh says. “We had to do surgery quickly; otherwise, the chance of recovering the nerve function would have been much less.”
In early January at Methodist Richardson Medical Center, Dr. Oh performed two separate procedures to replace the damaged disks between Clark’s vertebrae. The location of the lower disk required an approach from the back in a procedure called PLIF, or posterior lumbar interbody fusion.
For the adjacent higher disk, Dr. Oh was able to perform XLIF®, short for eXtreme lateral interbody fusion.
“XLIF goes through the patient’s side, disrupting less muscle,” he says. “It’s also more minimally invasive, resulting in a faster recovery and less blood loss.”
Clark says he instantly felt better after the operation.
“When the nurse helped me stand up, I will never forget that,” he says. “I felt an inch-and-a-half taller than I was before that surgery. I felt taller and stronger than I had in years.”
Methodist: Their new medical home
The Crandalls were quickly back to home improvement — although Kathy refuses to let Clark on the roof.
“Instead, he remodeled the whole bathroom — took it down to the studs,” she says.
Clark uses the word blessed to describe his experience.
“I don’t know what you’re doing up there, but keep it up,” he says. “It’s amazing how effective that staff is and works together.”
“We’ll never go anywhere else but Methodist Health System,” Kathy says. “Every person we met was fabulous.”
From the winter 2014 issue of Shine magazine.