Saturday, July 02, 2005

Spinal Tap

In yesterday's post I talked about the fact that I probably going to have an Anterior Surgical Discectomy, which means the surgeon enters from the front of the throat and shoves everything aside to reach the spine. Deathknyte asked in the comments: That sounds... painful. Why can't they just go in from the back of (the) neck?

That is an excellent question and one I asked the surgeon myself. They can go in from the back and in some cases they do. However, this is a much less common procedure because the spinal column itself blocks a view of what they are working on! In essence, if you go in from the front and pull aside everything, you are then looking directly at the problem spot. But if you go in from the rear, the spine is in the way and you actually have to remove part of the spine to reach the area you are working on. So, oddly enough, it is easier to go in from the front. I have not been able to find a good illustration of this online or I would link to it.

I am going to try to get a copy of my MRI burned on CD. I'd love to share that with you. The technology is simply breathtaking, there is no other way to put it. Picture your monitor with a split screen. The left side of the monitor shows the MRI image of the spinal column from the side arranged vertically. Thre is a red bar at the top of the spine and one at the bottom of the spine. This indicates the area imaged by the MRI, so anything in between can be viewed. There is also a purple bar which indicates what part of the spine is being viewed on the right side of the screen. The right side of the screen is a cross section of the spinal column. Using the mouse you can literally scroll up and down the spinal column, viewing cross section after cross section of the spine. Not only can you see the area of the problem, you can also see areas that are normal for contrast. It kind of looks like the picture below:

But that is not quite it because it is not as detailed or clear as what I saw. I can't quite convey the feeling of awe a had upon realizing what the technology offered. It was quite breathtaking.

Anyway, the damn surgeon's nurse never called back with a cost estimate so I am ticked.

Thank you, all of you, for your prayers and thoughts. And don't you worry; I wore the kilt to my liver biopsy, I wore it to my child's birth (except for the operating room where they required scrubs). I will wear the kilt to the surgery if I have it. Blessings to all y'all.