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Focus: Getting a New Mom Into Action

The last four weeks of Sarah Miller's pregnancy were filled with fear and frustration. Leg numbness and pain had left her almost completely immobile. But instead of improving as expected with daughter Izzy's birth, Sarah only got worse. Diagnostic imaging at Shady Grove brought the cause of her problems into focus and immediately set into motion fast, coordinated, life-saving care.

Imagine not being able to carry your newborn child, change her diaper, or take her for a stroll in the park. These were Sarah's devastating fears in the weeks before and after her daughter was born, December 15th. Sarah's physician, Dr. Wayne Meyer, said "Although these problems are commonly caused by the baby lying on sciatic nerves inside the pelvis, no diagnostic imaging or intervention was possible until after the birth."

In the great majority of cases, the baby's birth relieves the pressure and the problems disappear. But with Sarah, symptoms only worsened. "I'd wake up every day hoping the nerve would come back." When it didn't, Sarah came to Shady Grove for an MRI.

Her serious injury was obvious to the radiologist: the cause of Sarah's sciatica was not the pregnancy, but rather very large disk herniations. There was an immediate call to Dr. Meyer, who made another immediate call to Shady Grove orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brett Quigley, who scheduled back surgery at Shady Grove. Dr. Quigley said, "The disk herniations occluded almost the entire spinal canal. In addition to numbness and weakness in both legs, Sarah even had some atrophy (shrinking muscle size) in both lower extremities. Given the picture, she was lucky to have as much functionality as she did."

With the surgery, Sarah's pain instantly disappeared. The surgery had relieved the pressure on the still healthy portions of the nerve, and the next day, Sarah was able to walk with Izzy in her arms.

Sarah says that from the moment her back and nerve damage came into focus, "everyone worked so quickly. I felt I could have been their only patient." Today, Sarah is able to take care of her growing daughter, doing all the things most new mothers take in stride.

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