Patient cured of painful spasms after 25 years

Emirati road crash victim undergoes novel procedure at University Hospital Sharjah

Dr Nitin Yogesh, UHS’s Consultant Neurosurgeon & Spine Surgeon; Ali, the patient; and Dr Rajshekher Garikapati, Specialist Neurologist at UHS University Hospital Sharjah.

Sharjah: University Hospital Sharjah (UHS) on Saturday announced the successful implantation of a device that helped a patient who had been suffering from severe spasms in his legs for 25 years.

The surgical procedure, which UHS described as a first for Sharjah, was performed on Ali, a 49-year-old Emirati quadriparetic.

Twenty-five years ago, Ali was in a serious vehicle accident in which the driver, who was Ali’s long-time friend, was killed and Ali was left paralysed from waist down. Since then, he has been completely dependent on nurses to turn him in bed and assist him with virtually all of his daily needs. Also, his body was racked by painful and uncontrollable muscular spasms that were triggered by the slightest touch.

He had taken several oral medications for the spasms but as his tolerance increased and the disease worsened, they became completely ineffective. After analysis and examination, Dr Rajshekher Garikapati, a specialist neurologist at UHS, advised Ali to undergo a procedure to implant a device that delivers medicine directly into his spine. The device is called an Intrathecal Baclofen Pump (ITB pump).

Baclofen refers to a muscle relaxant medicine, which is commonly used to treat spasticity, and intrathecal spinal cord Baclofen device implantation surgery is an effective therapy for the management of spastic paralysis.

The pump consists of a device which can be programmed from the outside; the device itself sits in a small pouch under the skin of the abdomen. It delivers the exact amount of medicine that is needed to an area that is close to the nerves and is most effective. This eliminates the need for taking medicines orally because the tablets became increasingly ineffective and had many side-effects. The device completely controls Ali’s spasms with a far lower dose and without any of the systemic side effects common with oral medications, UHS said.

The surgery was performed by Dr Nitin Yogesh, UHS’s consultant neurosurgeon and spine surgeon.

“The surgery has been a new beginning for me. I would like to thank the entire team at University Hospital Sharjah and particularly Dr Nitin and Dr Rajshekher for helping me with my condition. Not only am I comfortable, but I am free of pain and the spasms are gone. This means that it is easier for me to be turned in bed and for my assistants to help me with daily needs. You can’t imagine the difference this makes in my life every single day,” said Ali.

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