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Patient Stories

Kayleigh's Story

"There were moments of tears, moments of joy, and moments of frustration."

Kayleigh playing in a pile of leaves with her sisterKayleigh was born with her spine in the shape of an “S”. By the time she came to NewYork-Presbyterian, she’d already had nine lengthening surgeries to correct her congenital scoliosis. But her spine had grown crooked and begun to fuse, which put an end to any further growth and left the trunk of her body leaned over to one side.

With all this, Kayleigh suffered lower back pain, poor breathing function, and an obvious postural deformity. “I was so afraid she’d grow up hating her life,” says her mom.

At NewYork-Presbyterian, Kayleigh spent time with Dr. Lawrence G. Lenke, one of only a few doctors in the country who could help her. Dr. Lenke performed a vertebral column resection — a lengthy 10-hour, complex reconstructive surgery to remove one vertebra and almost completely correct her spine. The procedure is painful but Kayleigh was incredibly strong. "She is not a normal patient because she was born with a different pain level," says her mom. "She just does not realize how much it hurt."

Today, Kayleigh is doing beautifully. She can sit down at lunch, carry a backpack and enjoy being a typical 8th grader.

About Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis is a spinal deformity where there’s a curve to the upper back because of vertebrae that are only partially formed at birth.

Spinal Reconstruction Surgery

An extensive spinal reconstruction was performed on the back of Kayleigh’s spine to correct her severe scoliosis. During the surgery, her fused spinal column was released by removing parts of the fused bone at multiple levels in the lower spine. In addition, we removed an entire vertebra to release her fusion in the upper part of the spine. These extensive spinal releases then allowed us to both straighten her spine and place her trunk back into a better position. The vertebrae were held in this new alignment with an array of screws, hooks, rods, and a cage. Her spine was then re-fused in this position in order to heal it permanently in proper alignment.