In a First for Israel, Hadassah Orthopedists Perform Spinal Surgery with Patient Awake

Thursday, Mar 19 2020

Reut Tayib shown with Dr. Josh Schroeder

(Translated and redacted from an article in Maariv by Ma’ayan Harouni – March 3, 2020)

At Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem doctors repaired a spine fracture while patient Reut Tayib was fully awake. “They spoke with me throughout the operation,” Tayib reported. “It was weird and exciting.”

When Tayib, a first-year medical student, left her home in Ariel before dawn with her husband Shneur, little did they know their journey to Jerusalem would end in disaster.

“We decided to spend the day in Jerusalem, heading first to Shneur’s work and then walking through the city,” Tayib describes. “About 10 minutes after we set off, we were hit by an oncoming car on the side where I was sitting. The pain was immediate. I screamed to Shneur that my foot was broken.”

Her diagnosis was optimistic and incorrect. Says Hadassah spine surgeon Dr. Josh Schroeder,

“As soon as Reut arrived at Hadassah, we performed a series of examinations and discovered multiple orthopedic injuries, including a fractured spine and damage to her carotid artery, which supplies blood to the head and neck.

“In order to treat the spinal fracture, we needed to operate, something we normally do using general anesthesia, with the patient lying face down so we can access the spine. But because of the injuries to the carotid artery, anesthesia could be extremely dangerous. We balked at the idea of lying her face down while anesthetized because we feared it could cause blood clots that would endanger her life.”

The team consulted with Director of the Endovascular Neurosurgery Unit Prof. Jose Cohen, who agreed the traditional procedure would endanger Tayib. In a rare move, and for the first time in Israel, the medical team decided to operate while the patient was awake.

“Throughout the surgery, we monitored the status of her artery and kept talking to her to ensure she was still conscious,” says Dr. Schroeder. “We were constantly keeping her alert, asking her to move her hands and feet or answer questions."

“I remember that they asked me to move my hands and feet, and they talked to me throughout, keeping me awake and as pain-free as possible with an epidural," says Tayib, who is doing well and is home recovering.

Learn more about the Hadassah Medical Organization.

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