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123CM→137CM: Patient with Severe Spinal Deformity Received Successful Operation at Union Hospital

Time:Nov 30, 2022

Recently, a young village doctor from Lincang, Yunnan Province, who suffered from congenital severe spinal deformity of nearly 150 degrees, finally got her spine straight under the joint treatment by the MDT team from Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (“Union Hospital”).


Luo Nawa, born in 1995, has twice been awarded the title of “Most Beautiful Village Doctor”. She was born with severe congenital spinal deformity. Her back has been stooped since the age of six, and she would be out of breath even during light exercises. As a village doctor, in addition to her shifts in the Community Health Center, she also needs to visit the villagers every month, which was not easy for her. The curvy roads in the village would make her gasp for breath and have to rest for a while before continuing.

Luo Nawa in work


In December 2021, a team of experts from Union Hospital came to Nanmei County of Linxiang District for free clinics. Professor Yang Cao from Orthopedic Department preliminarily suggested surgery for Nawa through remote consultation. In August 2022, an expert team led by leaders of Huazhong University of Science and Technology visit Lincang again for consultation on Luo Nawa, and a number of nationally renowned experts of spinal surgery were also invited for joint consultation, preparing to rectify the spinal deformity for Nawa. Over time, Nawa’s breathing disorder was getting worse. In October, she and her family agreed to the operation after thorough consideration and came to Wuhan.


After admission, Nawa received a series of examinations. Prof. Yang Cao’s team used the 3D printing technology to create a spine model. The spine curvature was about 150 degrees and in a “U” shape. The curved spine had taken its toll on her lungs, resulting in poor pulmonary ventilation. The patient was diagnosed of severe congenital scoliosis, tethered cord syndrome, and severe limitation ventilation dysfunction. As Nawa was short and had a high curvature of the spine, in order to protect her spinal nerves, experts from the departments of Neurosurgery, Radiology, Respiratory Medicine, Anesthesiology, ICU, Operating Room, Rehabilitation, Pain Medicine, Nutrition and Blood Transfusion, etc. carried out joint consultations, and formulated a detailed surgical planning to reduce and manage the potential risks during and after surgery.


3D printed spine model


The surgery was performed on October 19th. Prof. Yang Cao, working with Dr. Wang Kun, Dr. Feng Xiaobo, etc., placed screws in her vertebra precisely, and then completed osteotomy at the apical vertebrae of the “U” curve, straightened the curved spine as much as possible, fixed it with rods, and fusion to make the back “stand”. After 10 hours of operation, the surgery was successfully completed and the patient was transferred to the ICU.


After the treatment by intensive care and rehabilitation teams, Nawa was transferred to normal ward for continued rehabilitation. Within a week, her muscle strength gradually recovered from level 3 to level 4, and then to level 5. Now she can get out of bed and walk independently, and her height has grown from 123cm to 137cm. She has reached the discharge standard and is expected to go home soon.


Professor Yang Cao, director of Orthopedic Department, introduced, “Patients with severe scoliosis of 150 degrees is very rare and the surgery is highly difficult.” Severe scoliosis not only impact the patients’ appearance, interpersonal communication and mental health, but also damage the patients’ cardiopulmonary function with its progression, and even endanger their lives. For patients with Cobb angle less than 50 degrees, conservative treatment could be considered; for patients with Cobb angle more than 50 degrees, surgical intervention would be necessary. As one of the famous scoliosis treatment centers in China, Orthopedic Department of Union Hospital admits over 1000 patients with scoliosis per year, with more than 200 operations performed .


Source: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/ZbulDKfy6E9bPLFG-Eby1g

Edit by: International Exchange Office