Standing tall after 25 years!

Home Standing Tall After 25 Years!

Levent is one of 7 children born to the Şimşek family as well as being the only son. The family live in Kahramanmaraş. However, instead of enjoying 25-year old Levent’s life, the family has battled with worry and sadness for years as Levent was born with kyphosis and scoliosis. His back was both twisted and swollen. The family took Levent to a succession of doctors throughout his childhood but in vain. It seemed that Levent’s condition was untreatable. In the event of an operation, the family were warned that Levent could either become paralyzed or even die. In time, Levent’s parents accepted their son’s fate while Levent, with his hunched back was unable to socialize or even wear the clothes he wanted. What’s more, his physical appearance was not just giving him physical discomfort. His pain was getting worse, to the stage where he was unable to sit or stand. His breathing had decreased to almost a third of his lung capacity posing a great threat for his health. On a particularly difficult day, Levent was doing online research in Kahramanmaraş where he came across Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay, a specialist at the Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology at Acıbadem Maslak Hospital. Levent pinned his hopes on Prof. Dr. Alanay and travelled to Istanbul on his own.

He grew 10 cm!
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay successfully treated Levent Şimşek’s advanced scoliosis and kyphosis by operating using cutting edge technology which reduces the risk of paralysis. “I first placed my trust in God, and then in Dr. Alanay” says Levent Şimşek. His eyes shine with happiness as he adds that the two-part operation resulted in his body taking on a normal appearance. He continues, “I was 1.68 and now I am 1.78. I always had to lift my head up to look people in the eye. For example, my brother-in-law used to be taller than me but now I am taller than him. What’s more important however, is that I can breathe comfortably, my lung capacity is going to develop and I will be able to experience the beauty of life. I will not have to spend each month worrying about whether I am going to die”. Throughout his childhood and young adulthood, Levent Şimşek was unable to wear the clothes he wanted as his legs were long and his torso was extremely short. As he begins his journey back home, he is taking an exciting step into a bright future with his longed for new physical appearance.

This scoliosis operation reduces the risk of paralysis
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay, who used three groundbreaking methods to operate on Levent Şimşek’s scoliosis and kyphosis, says “Previously, we were nervous of performing these kinds of operations as there was a great risk of paralysis. However, recent years have led to the development and widespread use of navigation technology, 3-D spinal printing techniques and neuromonitoring which enable to us to perform safer scoliosis and kyphosis operations with high rates of success as it reduces the risk of paralysis. This is also how we treated Levent. If this technology was not available today, Levent’s lung capacity would continue to decrease and his quality of life would be seriously compromised. In fact, it would have eventually lead to his death”.

3 dimensional scoliosis treatment
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay emphasizes that an identical copy of a person’s spine can be created using 3 dimensional printing technology. This enables specialists to clearly view the complicated anatomy of the spine and the deformity, which is usually unable to be seen due to soft tissue. Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay says “Previously, the 3 dimensional tomography would provide us with 2 dimensional views which we would subsequently have to imagine in 3D. Now we are able to actually view it in 3D. This enables us to use the model to practice virtual operations in order to be able to ascertain what we will be faced with during the real operation. Navigation technology enables us to place screws which help rectify deformed anatomy. The inclusion of neuromonitoring reduced the risk of paralysis. The neurologists who were present throughout the operation were able to warn us every step of the way thanks to neuromonitoring. These developments in technology enabled us to successfully perform two risky operations on Levent”.

Advanced technology in the treatment of scoliosis

  • Spinal navigation: Spinal navigation enables surgeons to place screws safely and securely during operations to treat advanced cases of inflexible deformities. This is the first and most important step in treating patients with complicated anatomical structures. The navigation method of placing screws has a success rate of almost 100 per cent.
  • Neuromonitoring: Neuromonitoring is a technique implemented by neurologists which tracks the nerve signals in the spinal cord. The technique monitors the spinal cord throughout the operation and alerts the surgeon in the event of any loss or slowing of the nerve signals. These changes are immediately relayed to the surgeon by the neurologist. This early warning system enables surgeons to pinpoint and eliminate the cause of the loss of signal in the spinal cord. This method plays an important role in reducing paralysis as a result of damaged spinal nerves.

3D-Print: The 3D printing technique creates an identical copy of the patient’s spine. The surgeon is thus able to have a clear three dimensional view of the deformity. Surgeons are able to perform virtual operations on the print in order to have a clear understanding of any potential difficulties that will be faced during a scoliosis operation. The presence of soft tissue has previously prevented surgeons from having a clear view of the deformity therefore the 3 dimensional model is a valuable source. This method enables surgeons to perform scoliosis and kyphosis operations with confidence by reducing the risk of paralysis and fatalities.

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