A local woman can now to look her husband and two grown children in the eye after undergoing a successful surgery to correct a rare and debilitating spinal condition known as dropped head syndrome.
Vicki Hope, 56, of Boring underwent the spinal repair surgery on Nov. 28 at OHSU.
The procedure was performed by Khoi Than, M.D., an assistant professor of neurosurgery in the OHSU School of Medicine who described Hope’s condition as the worst case of dropped head syndrome he’d ever seen. Hope said she began noticing what she thought was a pinched nerve in February of this year, but over the course of the year increasingly began to lose feeling in her fingers and legs as her head tilted forward. Her second vertebrae had slipped totally out of alignment, and her third and fourth vertebrae were degraded.
“My head was stuck,” she said. “I would walk and just look at the ground.”
Than removed the third and fourth vertebrae and replaced them with a cage packed with bone, a procedure known as anterior cervical corpectomy. This followed two days of traction involving 40 pounds of weight attached to her head.
In addition to the ability to hold her head up, the procedure means that Hope will be able to go back on the waiting list for a life-saving liver transplant. She suffers from primary biliary cholangitis, a chronic disease that damages and can ultimately destroy bile ducts in the liver. The severe spinal condition in her neck precluded surgeons from safely being able to intubate her during the course of a transplant surgery.
Now she’s back at home with a healthy – and forward-looking – outlook.