Virginia Lawyers Weekly//October 2, 2023
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//October 2, 2023//
Type of action: Medical malpractice
Injuries alleged: Improper performance of thoracic kyphoplasty resulting in emergency hospitalization, development of cauda equina syndrome and surgical intervention
Date resolved: 3/22/2023
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorneys for plaintiff: Travis W. Markley, Richard L. Nagle, James N. Knaack and Benjamin M. Wengerd, Reston
Description of case: On Sept. 8, 2021, the plaintiff, then 77 years old, presented to the defendant orthopedic spine surgeon for a thoracic kyphoplasty procedure to treat a fracture in her T5 vertebrae. The procedure was performed in the orthopedic spine surgeon’s office and was the defendant surgeon’s final procedure of the day.
Despite the plaintiff’s complaints of severe pain during and after the kyphoplasty, the defendant discharged her home from the office shortly after the procedure. The severe pain persisted throughout the night, and she presented to the emergency department early the next morning, approximately 12 hours after the procedure. Radiology studies obtained at the hospital revealed evidence of a subdural fluid leak originating from the operative site. The radiology also revealed that cement utilized during the kyphoplasty procedure had extravasated in and around the spinal canal and had also embolized into the plaintiff’s pulmonary blood vessels.
The plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for two weeks. During the hospitalization, she suffered from significant pain as well as bowel and bladder issues. She underwent a surgical decompression of her spinal column for cauda equina syndrome, as well as manual fecal disimpaction, to address the issues from the kyphoplasty.
Plaintiff was prepared to offer medical experts to testify that the orthopedic spine surgeon improperly performed the kyphoplasty by failing to adequately take or interpret fluoroscopy of the plaintiff’s thoracic spine throughout the procedure. As a result of this inadequate visualization, the orthopedic spine surgeon improperly inserted cement into the T5 vertebrae too aggressively and failed to take the appropriate steps in response to the cement extravasating outside of the vertebral body, resulting in plaintiff’s injuries, pain and suffering, and need for a subsequent hospitalization and surgical intervention.
The case resolved following the parties’ respective designations of expert witnesses.
Plaintiff’s counsel Benjamin M. Wengerd provided case information.