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Spine surgery

Girl operated on at the Rizzoli Institute for a severe spinal deformity

29 July 2021
Photo of Alessandro Gasbarrini, director of Oncological and Degenerative Spinal

"When we received the video in which she runs on the beach, it was inevitable to superimpose the image to the one before the surgery: her back had one of the most severe deformities I have ever seen" said Alessandro Gasbarrini, director of Oncological and Degenerative Spinal Surgery at the Rizzoli Orthopaedics Institute in Bologna, who operated on V.B. with his team.

Before and after the surgery

She is 15, lives in Ukraine and grew up in an orphanage.

When she was a child, she fell ill with tuberculosis, which spread from the lungs to the spinal column. The Italian family hosting her in summer, as part of international solidarity projects, contacted Gasbarrini MD through the Probone Foundation, which offers assistance to people with spinal diseases.

After a long antibiotic treatment, monitored together with the Ukrainian doctors by Prof. Pierluigi Viale, director of infectious diseases at the Policlinico S. Orsola, the infection was eradicated, but it affected and destroyed the vertebrae of the dorso-lumbar region, which welded together. The deformity was evident and extremely dangerous because it compressed the spinal cord, caused uncontrollable pain and threatened the functionality of the legs.

The Vertebral Surgery team in the operating theatre

"We had planned the operation, but when we were about to perform it, the pandemic broke out,' Gasbarrini said. - However, the postponement was only for a few weeks because it was impossible to wait any longer: the risk of paralysis was imminent and the case was one of the so-called unrecoverable ones that we treated at the height of the Covid emergency in the spring 2020."

A vertebrectomy to remove the wedged vertebra and replace it with a titanium prosthesis: thanks to an eight-hour operation which few other centres in the world are able to cope with, V.B.'s spine has straightened and his spinal cord has made fully functional.

And this summer, when she returned to the beach in Italy, welcomed by her holiday family, she wanted to make the Rizzoli a part of her run on the beach.

Alessandro Gasbarrini, director of Oncological and Degenerative Spinal Surgery

In the following video the comparison between before and after the surgery:

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