Spine Infection

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Mrs. S.E. is a 60-year old school teacher from Fresno, California who developed tuberculosis while traveling abroad in India. She was treated with antibiotics but developed spinal collapse from the infection and progressive paralysis in her legs. This is termed Pott’s disease. The patient was referred to Dr. McCormack after her MRI showed the spinal cord was being compressed by a spicule of bone that was directly behind the patient’s heart and very difficult to get to (Figure 15).

Figure 15. MRI shows area of spinal collapse with pressure on the spinal cord. "x" indicates area of pressure. Double "x" indicates spinal cord.


Dr. McCormack performed surgery through the same incision used for heart surgery.  He removed the bone spicule to take the pressure off the spinal cord working between the vessels coming off the heart. After surgery the patient had improvement in her walking, although she still uses a cane.

Figure 16. MRI after surgery. The pressure on the spinal cord is relieved and the area is reconstructed with the patient’s own bone.

Patient Comment

"Dr. McCormack was great. I know I had a difficult problem because my doctors in Fresno told me so.  After meeting Dr. McCormack, I had complete trust in him.  My walking is much better after the surgery, and I'm thankful I’m not in a wheelchair."