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Ed Yeates ReportingThrough a remarkable surgery doctors have straightened the crooked spine of a Midvale man severely crippled for more than ten years. In fact, he now walks and sees things differently -- six inches taller.
Adult scoliosis had bent Elliot Rachlin’s spine so far to one side that his torso sat at 110 degrees.
Elliot Rachlin: "Over time, the pain moved, moved to the hip and then to the shoulders and eventually to the neck. Now the pain is pretty much gone.”
Now Elliot is pain free and walking straight for the first time in ten years.
In three separate surgeries, each six to ten hours, Dr. John Braun and his colleagues at the University of Utah straightened the curves. A rod matrix was attached to the spine with special screws that penetrated deep into the bone without interfering with the spinal canal.
John Braun, M.D., U of U Dept. of Orthopedics: "The fusion surgery we do actually creates a bridge of bone across the areas that are instrumented and that bone takes over, probably in about a six month period."
Joyce Rachlin/Elliot's Wife: "I tried to talk him out of it. In fact, I tried to talk him out of it right up to the very end because I was afraid. I'm so grateful he didn't listen to me."
Elliot now walks without getting tired. The pressure on his hips and organs has disappeared. People who knew him before look up to him now, literally.
Joyce Rachlin: "They stare up at him now. Before, I was taller than Elliot. I'm five four and I was taller than Elliot. And now, Elliot's a good foot higher than I am."
University geneticists have now located what they consider a candidate gene for scoliosis. Dr. Braun says it that pans out, an early diagnosis in infancy might be possible someday. Doctors could actually redirect growth of the spine so it corrects itself without the need for fusion surgery.
The University team is recognized nationally for specializing in complicated spinal deformities.