Patient Stories

B. Thomas Mazahery, MD

When Catherine arrived in the hospital emergency room (ER), the pain in her arms was so intense she couldn’t even sit up. The 64-year-old clinical psychologist had fallen in the bathroom of her McLean home two weeks earlier, injuring her left arm and shoulder. Unbeknownst to her, the fall had also fractured and dislocated her neck. By the time this was diagnosed in the ER, she had developed a kyphotic deformity (abnormal curve) in her cervical spine with dislocated and locked facet joints. This was putting pressure on her spinal cord and nerves and she was starting to lose arm strength.

Fortunately for Catherine, OrthoVirginia surgeon Thomas Mazahery, MD, was on call in the ER that night. He recommended an urgent procedure to correct the deformity, relocate the spine to its original alignment, and take pressure off the spinal cord and nerves. In order to safely do this, he initially took pressure off the spinal cord by removing one disc and realigning the spine into its proper position. Then he placed screws and rods in the back of her neck to give it more stability and hold the alignment.

Following her emergency surgery, Catherine felt a marked improvement. Her pain had diminished and her arm strength improved. After a short hospital stay, she returned home in a neck collar. Soon, she was able to drive the short distance to her office and begin a physical therapy program to regain strength and range of motion in her arms. In a relatively short period of time, she resumed her favorite activities, including cross-country skiing and walking in the wooded parkland behind her home. Most happily of all, she returned to her beloved piano, practicing scales even though her arms were still a bit sore.

Now pain free and fully recovered, Catherine is grateful that Dr. Mazahery was there when she needed him. “He had an excellent bedside manner and his staff took good care of me, too,” she says. “I particularly liked his faith in the team at the hospital who would be looking after me following my surgery. He was very positive about their work supporting his work.”