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Dr. Lawrence Lenke Featured on CNN for Fixing Complex Spinal Deformity

October 26, 2018

Columbia Orthopedics Chief of the Spine Division and Surgeon-in-Chief of The Daniel and Jane Och Spine Hospital Lawrence G. Lenke, MD was featured on CNN for his work in treating the complex spine case of John Sarcona. John developed severe scoliosis and kyphosis at a young age and had 17 operations to correct it. It wasn’t until his 18th operation with Dr. Lenke and his team that the spine was finally corrected with a risky, innovative surgery. From the article:

“Called a vertebral column resection, Lenke would separate John's spine into different sections, remove two vertebrae at the very center of the severe kyphosis, then straighten the spine as he brought the pieces back together.

"It does work well," Lenke said, "but the issue is that we have to take the vertebrate out around the spinal cord, and that's risky." His mother was terrified, but John had few options.

"The risk of doing nothing was that her son was going to suffocate or die," Lenke said, "and she could see that slowly happening."

A year since the surgery, John graduated high school and is playing golf and basketball. He said,

"Those first steps, leaning up against the bed, I felt like I was in a new body. It's a pretty crazy feeling and I still remember it today. It was almost like learning how to walk again."

It was his 18th surgery, but things felt different this time. "This might be a chance at a new life," he remembers thinking. "I could feel myself getting stronger with each step."

For more about the surgery and John’s patient story, read the article on CNN.

Follow Dr. Lenke on Twitter and Facebook for more about his practice.

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