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Moments That Matter: Abbey's Story

If you saw college freshman Abbey V. walking around campus, swimming or working out at the gym, you’d be surprised to learn that just months before coming to school she underwent major spinal reconstruction surgery to correct her scoliosis. This remarkable turn of events was only possible due to the advanced technology and surgical expertise available at Atlantic Health System Neuroscience.

Doctors first diagnosed Abbey with scoliosis when she was in fourth grade. She wore a brace to correct the condition for years, but increasingly found herself in pain and unable to stand for long periods of time. When X-rays revealed the curvature of her spine had worsened, Abbey and her parents knew it was time to begin seriously exploring the possibility of surgery.

They eventually connected with Scott A. Meyer, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in reconstructive surgery for spinal deformities, like scoliosis. Performing roughly 75 surgeries such as these each year, Meyer was confident he could successfully address Abbey’s condition.

“Because of the significant curvature of Abbey’s spine and her worsening symptoms, it was clear she would need reconstructive surgery,” Meyer says. “It was also clear that with the right skill and approach, we could alleviate her pain, improve her quality of life and help keep her on track to head off to college as planned.”

Abbey carefully weighed her options and elected to undergo spinal fusion surgery at Morristown Medical Center. During the five-hour procedure, Dr. Meyer essentially used a series of small screws to manipulate and straighten her spine.

“Compared to the metal rods that were used to correct scoliosis decades ago, spinal fusion allows the curvature to be corrected at each point, with less strain on the vertebrae,” Meyer says.

Atlantic Health System Neuroscience has the latest advanced technology – like the Medtronic O-arm® Intra-operative Imaging System and the StealthStation® Surgical Navigation System – which allow for 3D navigation during spine surgery and a more accurate placement of spinal hardware. This translates into a host of patient benefits, including smaller incisions, shorter surgical time, less pain, and a faster recovery with greater stability and flexibility.

Abbey herself was walking just four days after her surgery and gradually regained full mobility as her body healed. Three months later, with few limitations on physical activity, she went off to college as a pre-med student.

“Undergoing this surgery wasn’t a decision I made lightly and my recovery hasn’t been without hard work,” Abbey says. “On the whole, however, Dr. Meyer gave me all the confidence in the world that this was the best path for me. He was right.”

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