Dr. Richard Lee performs unique cervical spine surgery to treat patient pain

Written by Alan Condon | September 06, 2019 | Print  |

Richard Lee, MD, of Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, Calif., performed a cervical spine revision surgery to fix a C1 ring that flipped horizontally to rest on a patient's C2 vertebrae, reports Fox News.

The 70-year-old patient was unable to turn her head from side to side, resulting in a crooked posture known as "cock robin" positioning.

Dr. Lee removed the hardware implanted in her neck from the initial surgery with a different neurosurgeon. He then re-broke the patient's neck, which had already healed, to recreate the initial injury and extract the healed bone matter from her body's response to the natural healing process. 

The final step involved realigning the patient's head and neck back to the original angle, accessing her spine through an incision in the mouth, which carries a significant risk of infection.

Dr. Lee cut across the C1/C2 joint, releasing the ligaments and joint capsule that were contracted, separating the C1 ring off the skeleton and realigning the lateral shift.

"There's no special trick to this — you have to do it very slowly and very meticulously," Dr. Lee told Fox News. "You have to break through the mouth, through the back of the throat."

The surgery was a success and the patient is recovering well in a brace with minimal cervical pain. 

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