NASHVILLE, TN – Admitting enthusiasm got the best of her, Vanderbilt neurosurgeon Dr. Elle Hardwire got carried away with an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery and fused all 206 bones in her patients’ body.
“If a surgery like a cervical fusion is going extremely well, you go into this zen-like trance, some sort of groove, where you just follow your instincts because everything is going right, you know?” Hardwire told Gomerblog in the PACU post-op. Her patient was in a full-body cast, still with 205 Jackson-Pratt (JP) drains in place. “You know when you’re driving and you catch every green light on the way? It’s sorta like that.”
According to the detailed operative note, Hardwire performed a cervical discectomy at C4-5 before inserting a spacer bone graft, which she fixed in place with metal plates and screws. This was the initial surgical plan, a C4-C5 ACDF, and should have ended there. Instead, Hardwire followed her instincts and proceeded to fuse C5-6, C6-7, and all other adjacent bones thereafter.
Eight hours later, she effectively turned all 206 bones into 1 continuous one.
“Before I knew it, I was fusing the pelvis to the femurs, femurs to the tibia, you name it,” Hardwire continued. “I fused it all. Everything. I even fused those pesky middle ear bones together, I got so carried away.” There was an awkward pause. “Well, [my patient] is gonna be one helluva sturdy human being, that’s for sure!”