Operation Straight Spine has many success stories since starting our mission trips to India in 2006.
Arannya Adhakary, 18 months old, was diagnosed with congenital scoliosis when he was just 3 months old. He was the youngest patient treated during Operation Straight Spine 2017. Arannya’s congenital spine defect was known as a hemivertebra.
11-year old girl Shruti Sharma, was certainly the most challenging case the OSS team faced in 2017. Diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) at a young age. PWS is a complex genetic disorder that results in short stature, disorders of metabolism, cognitive disabilities, behavioral problems and low muscle tone, leading often to spinal deformities such as scoliosis. Shruti’s left thoracic scoliosis curvature was 92 degrees.
Juli was a nine-year-old girl who presented to the OSS team in extreme pain with the inability to walk from severe weakness in her arms and legs. She appeared very ill and emaciated, her small body racked with tuberculosis. X-Rays and MRI scan revealed the disease had spread to her cervical spine destroying several vertebrae and causing a deformity known as Kyphosis. There was a large epidural abscess compressing her spinal cord and causing the weakness. If we did not act, Juli would eventually become paralyzed and ultimately die.
Sandeepa was a 16 year-old girl who had been in the Ramakrishna Mission Hospital for 6 weeks prior to our arrival, suffering with Tuberculosis of the spine. She originally developed a febrile illness and malaise but was misdiagnosed by her village doctors. X-Rays and MRI revealed destruction of the 12 vertebrae with circumferential abscess, kyphosis and compression of the thecal sack. There was also involvement of the T12 vertebrae on the right but no collapse of the vertebra or spinal canal involvement. At this point she was cachetic, malnourished and had begun to develop bed sores. She could not even sit up because her spine was so unstable and she had so much pain.
Ankita was 2 years old when we first saw her being carried in her mother’s arms because it was too painful for her to stand or walk. She is the youngest patient we have seen infected with tuberculosis of the spine.
The tuberculosis infection had destroyed the 11th and 12th thoracic vertebrae and was putting pressure on her spinal cord, accounting for her pain while standing or walking. She was so small that we had to use small rods and screws normally used in the cervical spine to stabilize her spine from the back.
Ankita made a full recovery and after receiving anti-TB drug therapy, was cured of her infection. It was great to see her the following year literally running into the clinic.
In 2007 a 56 year old woman was admitted to the Ramakrishna hospital unable to walk. On physical examination she had no ability to move her legs and was having difficulty with bowel and bladder function. X-rays and MRI scan showed destruction of the 8th and 9th thoracic vertebra from tuberculosis infection, which was pressing on her spinal cord.
We were not optimistic that if surgery was performed she would be able to regain function in her legs. We decided to operate so that her spine would be stable and she could at least get out of bed and mobilize in a wheelchair.
Surgery occurred in two stages. In the first stage we used rods and screws in the back of her spine to stabilize the vertebrae. During the second stage we opened the chest cavity, drained the infection and replaced the destroyed vertebra with a plastic cage filled with bone graft from one of her ribs. Her postoperative course and rehabilitation were long and we had no idea of her outcome. When we returned in 2008, she came back to our clinic and we were delighted to see she had regained the ability to walk.
Anushka Naha, a 9-year-old girl with an intellectual disability, presented with scoliosis. She communicated with great difficulty and was unable to sit or stand due to her spinal deformity. After her surgery, she regained her sitting balance within 6 months and her parents expressed their gratitude to OSS for this vast improvement in their child’s health.
MD Kutubuddin was a 22-year old man with severe congenital kyphoscoliosis who complained of back pain and weakness in his legs. The congenital spinal deformity was causing pressure on his spinal cord. We had second thoughts about performing surgery due to the complexity of his deformity and the magnitude and risk of the surgery that would be required to correct his condition.