Scoliosis Patient Stands Taller after Complex Surgeries


Vol. 16, No. 3
Summer/Fall 2006

  • Scoliosis Patient Stands Taller after Complex Surgeries

  • Winthrop Specialists Named to Top Doctors List

  • Renovation Project Extended Thanks to Senator Balboni

  • Winthrop Opens Beautifully Expanded Admitting Office

  • ER & Cardiac Team's Exceptional Response Time Saves Father of Two

  • Winthrop Plays Major Role in County-Wide Emergency Preparedness Drill

  • Winthrop's Department of Pediatrics Admitted to Prestigious National Association

  • Don't let obesity take you from them

  • Cancer Survivor's Inspiring "Mask of Courage" Evokes Hope

  • Winthrop Appoints Board of Directors Chairman

  • Former Winthrop President Passes Away

  • CyberKnife Restores Mother's Hearing and Preserves Grandfather's Active Lifestyle

  • Winthrop Introduces Toilet-Training Program

  • Winthrop First LI Hospital to Pioneer Use of Advanced Physician Order Entry Technology

  • Citigroup Foundation and Garden City Family Support Cancer Center for Kids

  • Charlie's Champions Rally in Support of Cancer Center for Kids

  • Horticultural Therapy Program Branches Out Thanks to Fidelity Investments

  • West Islip Family Thanks Pediatric Center

  • Garden City Second Grader Dedicates Birthday to Young Patients

  • Jets Fans' Contributions Benefit Pediatric Patients

  • Kids for Care Hosts Dinner Supporting Pediatric ER Patients

  • Diabetes Education Center Partners with American Idol Celebrity for Important Discussion

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  • For 35 years Margherita Kroop, 51, unknowingly lived with idiopathic scoliosis.

    "I was straight but a little hunched over," recalled Mrs. Kroop, who once stood 5'7, but slowly lost three inches over the past 20 years. "Yet, I had pain for more than a decade."

    Mrs. Kroop had been seeing a massage therapist for pain management who had suggested that the cause of her pain might be scoliosis, "but it all came to a head last year when my body became deformed. By the end of the year, I was tilted to the right, and my head was on its side. I was totally disabled.

    "My life changed dramatically over that year; I wasn't able to do a lot of things anymore," she continued.

    Food shopping and cooking, activities she once enjoyed, would take her many hours to complete. Her slow functioning even prevented her from keeping up with her at-home bookkeeping job.

    She hadn't been able to sleep in bed for the past six months, resorting to using the recliner for comfort from nightly pain. Groggy most of the time, she eventually stopped working.

    "That was all the motivation that I needed to seek help," she said.

    Mrs. Kroop visited with an orthopaedist, who ordered x-rays and formally diagnosed a severe case of scoliosis, estimating the condition began when she was 15. She met with several surgeons, all of whom insisted surgery was the only option; it was too late for bracing.

    One orthopaedist referred Mrs. Kroop to Marc A. Agulnick, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and adult and pediatric spinal deformity specialist in Winthrop's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

    She immediately felt comfortable under his care.

    "He is wonderful. He doesn't rush patients, and he answers questions even before you think to ask them," she explained.

    "The goal of the treatment is to stop the progression of spinal curvature," explained Dr. Agulnick. "Anyone fully grown with a spinal curve doesn't necessarily need surgery, but they must be monitored. If you have a deformity and it's affecting your quality of life, it must be evaluated because the problem gets harder to address as one gets older."

    In late April, Mrs. Kroop underwent the first of two surgeries. Dr. Agulnick and a second spine surgeon, Mark Stephen, MD, teamed up with cardiothoracic surgeon, John Goncalves, MD, and the Hospital's highly skilled Thoracic and Cardiovascular surgery team to perform an anterior posterior spinal fusion with instrumentation and bone graft.

    "We built a stable foundation with screws in the pelvis, and at the apex; we had to actually cut her spine in half to correct her deformity and bring her head back over the pelvis," Dr. Agulnick explained. He offered further relief by decompressing four herniated discs and several pinched nerves during the procedure.

    The treatment involved 20 hours of surgery and six days of hospitalization followed by weeks of recuperation. Dr. Agulnick suspects it will take a year for Mrs. Kroop to feel 100%, but she feels it will be worth the wait.

    Spinal surgery at Winthrop goes well beyond what happens in the operating room.

    "The most important thing is patient education, and we have developed a full program that addresses patient concerns from the moment they are diagnosed," added Marjorie Kulesa, RN, BS, ONC, CNOR, Winthrop's Orthopaedic Nurse Coordinator. "We have a full protocol for taking care of the patients to get them back on track sooner.

    "We focus on the overall experience because that allows people to do well," she continued. "The surgery is just one part of it; we maximize therapy and nutrition, and employ a team approach to help our patients to do well."

    Today, Mrs. Kroop stands at 5'5". She is nearly pain free and feels the difference. Everyone around her sees it.

    "When I recently attended church, my friends couldn't believe how different I looked. They said it was a miracle, my face even looked younger," she explained.

    Her daughter's fiance also couldn't believe his eyes during a recent visit.

    "He apologized for staring and said, 'You look amazing. I feel like I am meeting you for the first time,'" she recalled.

    Now, with renewed self-confidence, Mrs. Kroop is looking forward to finding a new job, possibly at a library, and visiting two of her three children, who live six-and-a-half-hours away. Before the surgeries, travelling was difficult, if not impossible.

    "My quality of life totally changed, and while it was painful for a few weeks following surgery, for the short time you give up, you end up having the rest of your life back," she added. "Winthrop and Dr. Agulnick gave me a life when I didn't have one."

    For more information about Winthrop's orthopaedic services and procedures, call (516) 747-8900.



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