Robotic Surgery Gets Farmer Back in His Field



Dan very rarely lets illness slow him down. As a farmer, a business owner, and a champion wrestler, he’s the kind of guy who works through his pain. But when his legs went numb and he could barely walk, he knew it was time to see a doctor. Thanks to a minimally invasive spinal surgery using Mazor X™ robotic technology, he was able to return to his farm in time to plant the spring crops. Dan is living proof that new, precise technologies are helping people keep pace with their lives.

Dan has always been hard on his body. He grew up working on the farm that he now owns. The farm has been in his family for five generations.

Sports have also been a big part of his life. As a collegiate wrestler, he was a National Runner-Up and National Champion. At 57, he has enjoyed being involved with the wrestling team at a nearby high school. As a volunteer assistant coach, he would still get down on the mat to spar with an opponent.

“I was in the practice room a lot during the 2015-2016 season, which is probably where I messed up my back.”

When the pain began to limit his activity, it was difficult for Dan. “I was walking hunched over,” he said.

Going the distance for relief
A friend recommended he see a neurologist. When he asked around for referrals, one name kept coming up — Dr. Whiting. Donald Whiting, MD, is a neurosurgeon and chair of the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Neuroscience Institute at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH). 

Dan drove an hour and a half from his home near Sharon, PA, for Dr. Whiting’s advice. “I felt comfortable talking with him,” Dan said. “He knew what he was doing.”

Dr. Whiting told Dan he had spinal stenosis and mechanical spinal instability. “He caught that I had bone on bone in my L5-S1 joint that was causing the irritation,” Dan added. “In addition, I had a slipped disc between L5 and L4.”

Dr. Whiting knew Dan was anxious to return to work. He recommended Dan consider Mazor X™ minimally invasive surgery. Mazor X™ is a sophisticated new technology for spinal fusion. Surgeons at AHN were the first in Pennsylvania to use the surgical technology.

Dan was relieved to hear about an option that would help him recover in time to plant his fields of corn and soybeans. “Recovery time is quicker compared to those who go through traditional surgery,” he said. “A quicker turnaround time was definitely better.”

“Dr. Whiting inserted two replacement discs in my spine, he cleaned out my stenosis, and placed two rods and six screws in my spine,” said Dan.

Pioneering a new option for patients in Pennsylvania
Mazor X™ is unique because it uses a 3-D imaging system to view the bones of the spine before surgery. This helps surgeons plan precisely for implant and instrument positioning before the surgery and eliminates the need for additional preoperative testing.

The Mazor X™ robot is mounted directly to the patient’s bed and uses 3-D modeling to improve accuracy. With the surgeons in full control, the Medtronic O-arm® guides the tools and implants according to the surgical plan.

Minimally invasive surgery is typically performed through small incisions, and surgeons use microscopes and endoscopes to view the spinal structures on a 3-D monitor. Mazor X™ gives them accurate visual guides through real-time imaging that lets them see inside the body as surgery is underway.

In addition, the surgical arm extends the surgeons’ reach, allowing them to approach the spine from a variety of directions, for increased surgical options.

According to Dr. Whiting, spinal fusion has traditionally been done using an open technique. Because this requires a large incision, patients are at risk for increased blood loss, longer hospital stays, and more severe scarring.

“Mazor X™ greatly enhances the capabilities of our surgeons to help us achieve the best possible outcomes for patients undergoing spine surgery, including less post-operative pain, fewer complications, and a quicker recovery,” said Dr. Whiting.

After a healing period of about three weeks followed by three months of rehabilitation, Dan is back to his active life. He is able to climb onto his tractor, operate his chainsaw, and carry 50-pound seed bags. “I’m standing up straight, now,” he said. “Before the surgery, I couldn’t walk more than a quarter-mile without sitting down.”

Dan has no plans to slow down any time soon. He wants to be like his dad, who still works on the farm at 86.

“I am happy to say I am feeling stronger every day thanks to Dr. Whiting, the AGH staff, and the Mazor X™ robot,” said Dan. He also appreciates his local physical therapists who have contributed to his speedy recovery.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Meet Rescued Animals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Meet Rescued Animals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The new Live Animal Encounters program introduces museum visitors to rescued wildlife.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Feast Series Returns to Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland This September

Feast Series Returns to Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland This September

The third iteration of the series will feature chef J.J. Johnson, formerly of The Cecil and Minton's Supper Club in Harlem.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

Tres Rios Has Potential, But Hasn't Distinguished Itself Just Yet

The tacos-and-tequila bar and restaurant on the South Side doesn't do anything wrong, exactly, but has room to grow.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

Who Belongs on a Pittsburgh Steelers Mount Rushmore?

As the team prepares the inaugural class of its Hall of Honor, Mike Prisuta selects the four members of the Steelers family most deserving of inclusion.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

Make a Trendy Transition into Fall Style

No. 14 Boutique in Lawrenceville put together this chic outfit for the tricky period when summer cools into autumn.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
A Hitman and His Bodyguard Get Into Trouble (No Need to Overcomplicate Things)

A Hitman and His Bodyguard Get Into Trouble (No Need to Overcomplicate Things)

Reviews of "The Hitman's Bodyguard" and "Wind River," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Delicious Design: Our Cookie Table Contest Winner & Runners-Up

Delicious Design: Our Cookie Table Contest Winner & Runners-Up

These Pittsburgh couples certainly know how to bring the cookie table tradition to life.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Produced in Pittsburgh: MONMade Takes Local Crafters National

Produced in Pittsburgh: MONMade Takes Local Crafters National

Close to a half dozen local businesses, among them Savannah Hayes and Stak Ceramics, will make their debut next week at the mega interior design and home goods-focused show in New York City.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments

Edit Module
Edit Module