Man who went into hospital in wheelchair walked out after pioneering key-hole surgery in Leeds

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A 64-year-old quantity surveyor from Doncaster who went into hospital in a wheelchair was able to walk just hours after having a pioneering operation.

Malcolm Miller, 64, suffered debilitating pain in his back and right leg along with weakness in his foot after a weekend gardening in May this year which got so bad he even had to lie down to eat,losing two stone as a result. But after cutting edge spinal surgery in Leeds he says he is now pain free.

Surgery in Leeds gave me my life back, says man forced to take nearly two years off work

The problem first started in May after a weekend spent gardening at his home. The following morning he drove from Doncaster to Perth in Scotland and after making the return journey a few days later he had pain in his back and right leg. It worsened and the only relief was when he was lying flat. He visited his GP and was diagnosed with sciatica.

“My life was on hold. I couldn’t sit down, I couldn’t drive, I could hardly walk and the pain was debilitating. Even strong pain killers were ineffective. I saw a physiotherapist the same day as my diagnosis and he started me on an exercise regime, however on my third visit it was evident that it was not getting better and he suggested I see a neurologist,” said Malcolm.

He contacted his private health insurance company who provided him with a list of consultants. After careful research he chose Mr Deb Pal, consultant neurosurgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital and discovered that he could get an appointment to see him straight away in early June.

“Mr Pal was brilliant. He phoned me ahead of the appointment and suggested I have a MRI scan and X-ray the day before my appointment so the problem could be identified quickly.”

As Mr Pal had suspected, the scan revealed a herniated disc between L4 and L5 in the lumbar (lower back) region. “Mr Pal showed me the scans and explained the cause, you could see it quite clearly, there was a trapped sciatic nerve which was causing the severe pain.”

“The pain in his leg was severe and he scored it as 10 on a scale from one to 10,” said Mr Pal. “Worryingly, he had a severe weakness in his foot and his mobility was hugely affected. He came to the clinic in a wheelchair and his mobility was poor.”

Man with ‘astonishing’ bend in his spine walking tall after op

He discussed the options with Malcolm. “Mr Pal explained that I could wait to see if the trapped nerve would eventually free itself, which might take six months to a year. He recommended surgery because of the damage to the nerve that had already taken place and to prevent the weakness from getting any worse.

“For me it was an easy choice to have surgery, and to have it as soon as possible. My life consisted of being laid in bed with severe pain,not being able to move and struggling to walk the few steps to the ensuite bathroom. I couldn’t even sit down to eat a meal and had lost nearly two stones in weight as I had to eat lying down which meant my diet consisted mostly of sandwiches. The concept of waiting to see if the problem went away was simply not an option.”

Ten days later, on June 24 Malcolm underwent a keyhole lumbar microdiscectomywhich took around 40 minutes, and was up and walking just three hours after surgery. “I woke after surgery and the pain had gone. I was shocked. It’s not what I was expecting. I expected the pain to be reduced and for it to take some time to lessen further, however I was pain free.”

The following morning Malcolm was allowed to go home and was able to walk out of Hospital without the need of a wheelchair. He is now following a daily physiotherapy rehabilitation programme to strengthen his muscles. “My leg muscles had wasted as I had not been moving for six weeks. I’m doing really well and walking a little further each day.

Malcolm is looking forward to returning to work at the end of September and getting back to working in his garden. He also has a holiday planned in Turkey.

Commenting on the results Mr Pal said, “Almost 85-90% of appropriately selected patients will notice an immediate resolution or improvement of leg pain on waking up from surgery. Mr Miller’s leg pain has fully resolved and his foot weakness has improved also. Neurological recovery should continue with the help of further planned physiotherapy.”

Malcolm added, “I’m very happy with the result. I was really impressed with all the staff at Spire - every single one of them, which was important to me as in my 64 years I’ve never been in hospital before now so it took a lot of stress away.