The Spine Division and The Cahill Spine Institute at the University of South Florida Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair in Tampa Bay, under the direction of Juan S. Uribe, MD, utilizes the most advanced techniques to correct surgical disorders of the spine and spinal cord. The USF spine group provides state-of-the-art care for the full spectrum of spine problems. The entire spectrum of spinal disease processes are addressed through both traditional and less disruptive surgical treatment options. Our comprehensive approach to spine care and management focuses on minimally invasive surgical techniques.
In addition to advanced research into the biomechanics of spinal diseases, surgeon researchers at the University of South Florida are heavily involved in attaining a better understanding of the complex anatomical corridors providing access to the spine. Such important research being done at USF offers the hope of future breakthroughs to those afflicted with severe spinal cord injury.
Life Prior to Surgery: Ellen has dealt with back and neck issues for as long as she can remember. Her left hip is higher than her right one which is a genetic and hereditary problem. As a result, she has been seeing a chiropractor since she was a teenager. About six years ago, she noticed that her spine was curving, causing even more imbalance. Ellenʼs pain continued to worsen over the years. She was unable to stand up straight and constantly suffered from excruciating pain. Simple activities became increasingly difficult for her. For example, a simple task such as mopping the floor would take Ellen four hours.
Eventually, Ellen decided to seek different types of conservative treatments such as epidural injections. Unfortunately, they failed to provide her with long-term pain relief. Ellen soon reached the point where she couldnʼt put any weight on her right leg and she was forced to use a walker to get around her house. She feared losing permanent sensation in her lower right leg and was certain that within five years she would be bedridden. Ellen is a veteran and a member of the VA system, and through that organization she received a list of recommended spine surgeons. She chose three surgeons in the University Neurosurgery Clinic and, eventually, decided to schedule a consultation with Dr. Juan Uribe. Although she feared spine surgery, Ellen had reached the point where her pain was so severe she had no other choice.
Situation Today: Ellen underwent XLIF surgery in September 2011. She walked two days after her operation and stayed in the hospital for six days. After the surgery, Ellen wore a back brace and walked with the assistance of a walker while she regained stability. She did sessions of physical therapy to help regain muscle strength. Ellen was able to resume daily activities like cooking almost immediately but was careful not to overexert herself. She is grateful that she had a strong support system to help her through her journey to recovery.
At the end of week five, Ellen was off all pain medications and was pain-free. "Itʼs unbelievable how I feel now," exclaims Ellen. "Dr. Uribe gave me my future back." While she does struggle with some arthritis, she looks forward to doing aqua therapy. Now, because she is pain-free, Ellen looks forward to resuming full-time work as a hospice nurse in the near future along with other recreational activities like traveling and going to concerts. PAUL GAETANO
Hometown: Sarasota, FL
Surgeon: Dr. Juan Uribe of USF Department of Neurosurgery, Tampa, FL
Indications: Degenerative disc disease, stenosis, and recurrent disc herniation
Levels treated: L4-5
Surgery date: March 9, 2010
Life Prior to Surgery: Paul, a successful Florida businessman, developed back issues in his twenties as a result of physical labor. For the next decade he endured chronic pain until, at age 39, this active man was forced to use a wheelchair for mobility. Paul was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, stenosis, and disc herniation. He then submitted to having a discectomy which failed to relieve his pain. One day, after hearing a TV announcer talk about MMA fighter Nate Quarryʼs professional comeback following the XLIF procedure, Paul sought out Dr. Juan Uribe for a consultation. Although he was a candidate for XLIF, Paul was hesitant to undergo another back surgery. But once Paul realized that his life had become completely compromised by pain, he decided to go forward with the procedure.
Situation Today: Paul was up and walking two days after surgery, and felt almost immediate relief from pain. He stopped all pain medications after three weeks and, just four months after surgery, Paul was walking five miles per day. Today, still amazed at his transformation, Paul feels better than he did 30 years ago. He is running 5-6 miles per day and working out in the gym. He will be running a 10K in Atlanta on the 4th of July in the "Peachtree Roadrace." With any luck, he hopes to run the New York Marathon in the future! RUSTY TANNER
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
Surgeon: Dr. Juan Uribe with the University of South Florida Physicians Group
Indications: Possible paralysis after a sudden and severe seizure shattered his L1 vertebra (trauma)
Procedure: XLIF® corpectomy
Levels treated: T12-L2
Surgery date: March 7 and 9, 2009
Life Prior to Surgery: While his wife, Adriana, was driving Rusty to pick up their daughter from swim practice, Rusty suffered a violent seizure that shattered his L1 vertebra. He was fortunate his spinal cord was not severed, but his motor function was severely compromised. Doctors feared he would never walk again.
Situation Today: After undergoing a successful XLIF corpectomy procedure, Rustyʼs rehabilitation efforts focused on bending his knees, lifting his feet, and learning how to walk again. Dr. Uribe gave Rusty a list of "donʼts": donʼt lift anything heavier than a glass of milk; donʼt try to bend or twist; donʼt drive; and donʼt overdo it. Rusty listened, and with hard work in rehab for six months after surgery, he had his energy back and greater mobility. Today, Rusty has overcome his devastating injury and can actively participate in his favorite pastime: offshore fishing for sailfish, marlin, and kingfish in the Gulf of Mexico.