Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Emily Thole Stark, Spine Surgery
Ever since she was little, Emily Thole Stark, 30, has had problems with her back. She remembers dealing with back pain in sixth grade and again, while playing volleyball in high school.
Her doctors told her she had spondylolisthesis – a common back problem in young people that occurs when one of the vertebrae slips onto the bone below it.
In 2010, Emily met with Michael Horgan, M.D., Fletcher Allen neurosurgeon and associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.
Dr. Horgan, working with Fletcher Allen neurosurgeon Ryan Jewell, M.D., and Fletcher Allen vascular surgeon Georg Steinthorsson, M.D., performed a minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure, using smaller incisions and techniques that cause less damage to surrounding tissues.
Instead of one large incision, surgeons make three small incisions. Moving x-ray images provide views of the inside of the body, helping to guide the surgeon's instruments. The less invasive approach results in less pain and a shorter recovery – as well as lower long-term risk from surgery, Dr. Horgan said.
Emily’s procedure went well. “The care I received was phenomenal,” she said. “They made me feel comfortable and confident . . . I felt very well taken care of.”
An elementary school teacher, Emily had wanted to have the surgery in the spring, so she could return to teaching in the fall. She went through physical therapy after the procedure and was able to return to her classroom in September without any problems.
Today she has less pain and is able to move around and sit on the floor without any problem. She’s expecting her first child and is soon to be a new mom.
“Dr. Horgan and his team were amazing,” Emily said. “I honestly don't think that I could have found a better fit for my needs anywhere else."