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Orthopaedic & Rehabilitation Institute

Complex Spine Procedure Helps Patient

Complex Spine Procedure Helps Patient Get Back on Her Feet

Myrna HartAt age 70, Myrna Hart was enjoying good health and a relaxing, fulfilling retirement. But a tumble down a flight of stairs put her future in jeopardy. On June 7, 2007, Myrna lost her balance and fell down a stairway in her home, severely injuring her back. Myrna was rushed to the emergency room at her local hospital, where several CT scans revealed three fractured vertebrae in her spine.

"I found myself in a very precarious situation," said Myrna, a former schoolteacher who resides in Washington, Pa. "Without prompt and expert surgery, I could face serious complications, even the risk of paralysis."

Myrna was immediately transported to Allegheny General Hospital's Trauma Center – the largest trauma unit in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia for brain and spinal cord injuries.

Daniel Altman, M.D., an AGH orthopaedic surgeon who is the director of the Division of Orthopaedic Spine Trauma, was assigned to take care of Myrna and recalls the severity of her injury.

"Myrna had suffered a highly unstable fracture," said Dr. Altman. "What made this case so challenging was that small bone fragments had shattered and become imbedded in the area around Myrna's spine."

During a four-hour operation, Dr. Altman removed the bone particles, then inserted two titanium rods into Myrna's back to support her injured spine. Amazingly, Myrna made such an excellent recovery that she was discharged from AGH within one week. Following rehabilitation at HealthSouth in Harmarville, Myrna returned to her home in late June.

Today, Myrna is on pace to make a full recovery and resume her active lifestyle. "I'm regaining much more strength and mobility," said Myrna, who runs a gardening business with her husband, Tom, and serves as a volunteer for the Red Cross. "Best of all, I don't experience any pain."

Myrna credits Dr. Altman and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery for giving her a new lease on life. "The treatment I received from Dr. Altman and the other staff at AGH was first rate. Not only did they perform a very difficult form of surgery, they also provided my family and me with comforting reassurance to help us through an extremely stressful period in our lives."


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