Dr. Richard A. Kaul, MD of New Jersey Spine and Rehabilitation performed a life changing surgery for a 16 year old Long Valley, NJ resident. Amanda Mrasz had been suffering for years from debilitating spinal pain that radiated into her back and legs. She found it difficult to walk or stand up and often the pain was so severe that she was unable to get out of bed.
Since the onset of her pain in 2009, Amanda had been referred to and seen by seven different specialists, none of whom could diagnose the cause of her pain. She underwent bone density tests and bone scans, none of these tests yielded the answer to her pain. One of the specialists recommended a back brace, something that no teenager wants to have to endure both physically and socially “It was this big, hard, clunky, white thing and my friends used to tap on it,” recalls Amanda. “I wore it for over 3 months and it did nothing.”
Another Doctor recommended nerve blocks, which he informed her would only temporarily dull the pain. Amanda declined this treatment as well due to its inherent risks, “He told me there was a 1 in 40 chance that the injection could hit a nerve and numb my left leg for days or possibly months.”
Yet another treated her with epidural injections, which had no effect as well. Despite this wide array of treatments and the addition of the spinal apparatus, Amanda found little relief and her pain was increasing.
Amanda’s chiropractor, Dr. Dean Curtis, who was one of the first doctors she had sought treatment from, had made the original diagnosis of Spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is a condition which occurs when vertebral bones fracture, allowing a vertebra to slip forward. This can also pinch nerve roots, causing pain to radiate to the legs and feet and cause potential loss of motor functions. Spondylolisthesis is common in athletes who participate in impact sports. For years, until her pain no longer allowed her, Amanda was an avid soccer and volleyball player, playing on multiple school and recreational teams as well as being a childhood gymnast. This diagnosis seemed to fit as the repetitively concussive nature of these sports may have contributed to her condition. Dr. Curtis had remained committed and accompanied Amanda to all of her different specialists. After having exhausted every potential non-surgical option, Dr. Curtis referred Amanda to Dr. Richard A. Kaul, MD of New Jersey Spine and Rehabilitation. “When I saw Dr. Kaul I was immediately comfortable and confident. Dr. Curtis had told me that if he were in my position, Dr. Kaul would be the one that he trusted and he knew that Dr. Kaul was an expert.”
Upon examination, Dr. Kaul concurred with Dr. Curtis’ diagnosis of Spondylolisthesis. Dr. Kaul informed Amanda that the recommended course of treatment would be a Lumbar Body Fusion. Obviously, Amanda was wary of the invasiveness of this surgery and expressed hesitance towards using traditional open back surgery. Dr. Kaul explained to Amanda and her family that he could perform this surgery with a Minimally Invasive and Percutaneous approach, a field he has pioneered. This procedure would involve a small incision at the surgical point, this incision he would allow access to the defective discs in Amanda’s spine without exposing her entire spine like more traditional surgeries. Through the small incision, Dr. Kaul would remove the damaged discs and replace them with bone material. Thus, realigning the spine as well as taking the pressure off the pinched nerve roots. A series of small screws are then attached to the spine for additional support. This procedure would leave her with no unnecessary scarring, minimize the risk of post-operative infection and drastically shorten the recovery time.
Needless to say, Amanda and her family were overwhelmed by the possibility of relief for their ailing daughter. Amanda scheduled her surgery immediately, desperately hoping this would expedite the relief of her unrelenting pain. “I was nervous about how drastic the surgery would be, until Dr. Kaul showed me a video of him performing the procedure on someone else. I must have watched that video 20 times before my surgery, I was amazed as to how ‘minimally invasive’ it actually is.”
On March 25, Dr. Richard A. Kaul, MD performed the four hour surgery with no complications. It is only a few days since the procedure and Amanda is already experiencing positive results. “I don’t know where I would be without Dr. Kaul. He is an amazing doctor. My only regret is that I wasted two and a half years with other specialists. I wish I had met him two and a half years ago.”
Dr. Kaul, a father of two young children himself said, “As a father, I know the emotional hardship it can bring to see your child suffer and feel helpless to do anything. Although I see many cases per year, the opportunity to impact Amanda’s life and her family is something I consider a privilege. To know that I have changed the life of that child through my expertise is beyond description and something I will not soon forget.”
Dr. Richard A. Kaul, MD is the head physician at New Jersey Spine and Rehabilitation in Pompton Lakes, New Jerseyand a pioneer in the field of Minimally Invasive Spinal Procedures.