Patient Stories

B. Thomas Mazahery, MD

When he first felt pain in his lower back, Tom did what many people do, he ignored it. But as the pain intensified, the 62-year-old former Marine sought a familiar face: Thomas Mazahery, MD, at OrthoVirginia. Several  years earlier, Dr. Mazahery had performed a discectomy to alleviate pain from a pinched nerve. This time, Dr. Mazahery diagnosed stenosis –  a narrowing of the spine that puts pressure on the spinal canal  and nerves – as well as worsening scoliosis and spine deformity.

After physical therapy, massage and injections failed to ease Tom’s pain, he opted to have a spinal fusion. Dr. Mazahery gave him a choice: he could have the standard surgical procedure or he could try something brand new – computer-assisted robotic surgery. Tom didn’t hesitate. “I work on electromechanical instruments as part of my job as the IP LAN system administrator at a large law firm, so I felt extremely comfortable with the technology,” he says. “It was a very easy decision.”

This specially designed robotic guidance system allows surgeons to perform spine procedures with greater precision and accuracy. It uses a pre-operative CT scan to create a unique surgical blueprint so surgeons can plan exactly where to make incisions and place rods and screws before they even get to the operating room. Benefits include less pain and blood loss, fewer complications, minimal scars, faster recovery and quicker return to daily life.

Following his surgery, Tom’s back pain was gone. He was walking in the hospital within 24 hours and walking around his neighborhood four days later. Within six weeks, he was back at work.

Now that he’s pain free, Tom has resumed his volunteer work with Honor Flight Chicago, a not-for-profit organization that flies World War II veterans to Washington, DC, to visit the memorials.

“I was a guardian for eight flights but had to stop when my back pain got really bad,” he says. “Thanks to everyone at OrthoVirginia, I’m able to serve these heroes once again.”