- Now 21 years old and a senior in college, V.P. began having problems with her back when she was 12 years old. She was a competitive gymnast at the time, and the 24 hours of training a week had put excessive stress on her back. As a result, she developed stress fractures in her spine that never healed, which allowed for excess motion where her spine joined her pelvis. Initially she was able to put up with the discomfort, but in time it got worse. Sometimes the pain was so bad, she couldn’t go to school. “It felt like my back was on fire, so I was told to quit gymnastics and give my body time to heal. Eventually pain prevented me from sleeping. I remember one solid week when I was 14, when I couldn’t sleep at all.” V.P. recalled getting shooting pains down her legs when she rolled over. Eventually neither standing nor sitting were comfortably. After stopping gymnastics and giving her back a rest, she felt better. She tried playing other sports but soon found that just turning the wrong way could cause excruciating pain that lasted for days. V.P. tried physical therapy but it too aggravated her condition. Two attempts with bracing her back were also unsuccessful. The last treatment she tried before deciding to undergo surgery was personal training at a gym that specialized in sports-related injuries. “My back stopped hurting for at least four years and then all of a sudden, the pain came back one summer,” she said. “I decided to do the surgery because I was sick of being in pain.” In order to reestablish a solid connection between the spine and the pelvis, Dr. Scott Simon, assisted by Dr. Paul Apostolides, performed a minimally invasive decompression and spinal fusion on Vicki in June 2009. They removed the disc between L5 and S1 and replaced it with bone and a small cage. Through two small, one-inch incisions, they placed screws into the two vertebrae and connected them with two rods in order to immobilize the vertebrae to allow them to fuse together. V.P. spent three days in the hospital and recovered at home over the next two weeks, after which she gradually went back to driving and getting around on her own. “I’m very glad I had the surgery. Now I'm back to living a normal life. I get a full night’s sleep and wake up without my back hurting. I am even back to weight training and using the elliptical at school.
- Dear Dr. Apostolides, Thank you so much for believing in my mother almost 10 years ago in 2003. She is still doing great at 89!! You many see her at the center for her knees now and then. I just recommended you to a friend and it brought me back to realizing how you changed the trajectory of her and our lives. My mom had become a body filled with pain and anger, with litttle of her true personality left. I was having the last grandchild and worried that my daughter would never come to know what a wonderful Grandmother she had. You came along and told her that at 81, you would get her back on the tennis court! The other doctors just told her she was old and "this is what happens." You got her back on the court!!
- “Major spinal disorders have afflicted my father's side of our family for decades but most of my relatives were nearly 30 years older than I when their problems started. So when sharp pain shooting down my leg began to wake me up at night, I was very worried that the decades of heavy work-related travel combined with sitting behind a desk for very long hours were catching up with me. An MRI and exam revealed that I had severe spinal stenosis, scoliosis and degenerative disc disease. A New Yorker for 30 years, I was inclined to believe the notion that if you had a medical problem, you had to see a ‘top surgeon in the city.’ So I went to that top doctor and had spine surgery at a major New York hospital, which was not successful. My problems worsened. In the meantime, my father, age 85, developed a serious spinal problem that required a 10-hour, complicated spinal fusion. Furthermore, he had quadruple bypass surgery a year and a half before, making him a high risk patient. That was when I met Dr. Amory Fiore, the talented neurosurgeon who performed the difficult surgery on my father that rescued him from severe pain and restored his ability to walk. So when my own spine condition deteriorated two years later, I turned to my father's surgeon in Greenwich for help. Dr. Fiore said I would need a spinal fusion on the same disc that was operated on in New York. He and his colleague Dr. Paul Apostolides did the surgery, and this time I recovered beautifully. I did my PT religiously, walked a mile with my dog each day, and within months I was completely pain free. Eighteen months later, I started to have pain in my lower spine. An MRI showed instability in two more vertebra and disc degeneration. Dr. Fiore said I would need another surgery to fix the problem. This time they did a triple spinal fusion. Surprisingly, I was up and out of bed and doing stairs at Greenwich Hospital the next afternoon. Again, my recovery went smoothly, and since then I have had no pain and have regained complete mobility. I have even played 18 holes of golf with my surgeon. Now, if only Dr. Fiore could come up with a surgery to fix my golf game… I am so thankful to Dr. Fiore, Dr. Apostolides and the ONS therapists for not only giving me my life back but allowing me to have more fun in my life too.”
- D.L. was almost blind by the time she arrived at the office of neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Simon. Over the last 3 weeks she had been experiencing progressive loss of her vision that prompted her ophthalmologist to order an MRI of the brain. The scan revealed a large pituitary tumor compressing her optic nerves at the base of her brain. Dr. Simon admitted D.L. directly to Stamford Hospital and preformed a minimally invasive resection of the tumor, accessing the site completely through the nose. After surgery, D.L.'s vision completely returned and she continues to be tumor free without any side effects.
- In Spring of 2007, fourteen-year-old J.L. of Dulles, VA was visiting her grandmother during spring vacation when she was struck by a car as she walked across the road near Greenwich High School. An ambulance took her to the Trauma Center at Stamford Hospital, where it was quickly determined that she had suffered a life-threatening head injury. Neurosurgeon Scott Simon, MD of the Tully Health Center and Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery Specialists PC was called to the emergency room, and it was quickly determined that the impact from the accident caused an acute subdural hematoma and malignant brain swelling, leading to a herniation syndrome, where the brain is pushed into the brain stem and down through the skull. J.L. underwent an emergency hemicraniectomy, where Dr. Simon removed half of her skull as well as the hematoma. (She had the same brain surgery as Bob Woodruff.) Once her swelling subsided, the removed portion of her skull was reattached. Back home in Virginia, J.L. is now in 11th grade. She loves to sing, draw and go shopping with friends. Thanks to the excellent care she has received at Stamford Hospital and the skills of Dr. Simon, J.L.'s life has returned to normal.
- For over fifteen years, Darien High School computer technology trainer R.C. frequently suffered from back and leg pain. After a while, household projects became more and more difficult and by the time he was 58, he was easily fatigued and having difficulty walking short distances. Eventually, riding in a car was agonizing and he could no longer enjoy his favorite hobby, working on cars. After consulting chiropractors, orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons as well as following programs of physical therapy and exercise, he went to see Dr. Paul Apostolides, a neurosurgeon recommended to him by his brother-in-law. “Upon reading my MRI, he explained that my problem was due to severe spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis or slip-of-the-bone,” said R.C. “The spinal canal had severely narrowed putting pressure on the spinal nerves which caused my leg pain. In addition, one vertebra had slipped in front of the other and was moving abnormally, causing my back pain. Fortunately, there was a surgery that could help me.” Dr. Apostolides with Dr. Amory Fiore, performed a laminectomy to widen the spinal canal and decompress the spinal nerves. Then, an instrumentation and fusion were performed to treat the instability using titanium screws and rods, medical grade plastic inter-body cages and bone graft. R.C.’s recovery was steady through a post-operative routine of physical therapy and a home exercise program. He returned to his job after a two and a half month break to recuperate. Six months later, R.C. and his wife made a three-week trip to China and climbed the Great Wall. “I could never have made the trip before the surgery. It gave me my life back. I feel great!” he said.
- At 86 years of age, E.B. of State College, PA is a healthy and active woman, accustomed to an independent lifestyle that includes gardening, volunteer work and traveling. She awoke one morning with considerable pain in her back and right leg. The previous afternoon she had spent raking and pulling weeds in her garden and her physician in Pennsylvania concluded that she had badly strained a muscle. The pain grew worse over time and after five weeks of physical therapy and pain medication, her condition had deteriorated significantly. Searing pain shot into her right thigh whenever she attempted to bear weight on it and she could no longer walk without leaning on a walker. Climbing stairs was all but impossible. With great difficulty, E.B. traveled to Westchester County to visit her daughters for Thanksgiving. They brought her to ONS to see Dr. Mark Camel. Upon reading an MRI of her lower back, he determined that the source of her pain was pressure on the spinal nerve created by a ruptured disc. A 45-minute procedure called a discectomy could end her suffering. She underwent the operation to remove disc fragments and material from the damaged disc. By the afternoon on the day of surgery she was up and walking with less difficulty, and in less than two weeks she was walking and climbing stairs unassisted. “What a relief,” said E.B. “I had become so disabled, that I was really concerned I might lose my independence. The surgery was as successful as Dr. Camel predicted and it exceeded my expectations. I only wish I'd had it done sooner.”
- “I just had to check in with you all...I am doing so well! I have truly not felt this well in as long as I can remember. Having the spinal fusion surgery has changed my life in so many ways. I have lost 50 pounds since my surgery and resuming normal activity. I have ZERO pain whatsoever. I haven't even had so much as a headache since my surgery in July. I feel about 10-15 years younger, minimally. I can never thank Dr. Camel, physical therapist Fey and all of the associates at ONS who helped me to return to a "better than normal" state of health and well-being. I know you guys do this every day; but to me, this was a once-in-a-lifetime "event" that has permanently changed my life for the better in myriad ways. THANK YOU ALL, once again!”