The Procedure

Hey All!

Here’s David’s explanation of what this next week involves for me and my little uninvited friend. The procedure will roughly follow these steps:

Step 1 (Day 1 – Monday): Starve

Vascular surgeon will try to cut off the blood supply to the tumor (tumor embolism) the day before the surgery by “zapping” the blood vessels feeding it.

Step 2 (Day 2 – Tuesday morning, 10am start): Stabilize

A surgeon will open her back to access the L1 vertebrae and the other vertebrae above and below. They will cut and remove a small piece of bone from L1 surrounding the spinal cord, which will relieve pressure on the spinal cord. They will then place two rods on either side of her spine and screw them in with pedicle screws. A CT scan will act as a reference for registering all the correct locations during the surgery to 3D image data. Holes for the screws are guided by an intra-operative navigation device by either Medtronic or BrainLab  such that they can see three-dimensionally how the drill bit will go into the vertebrae to ensure that the screws are placed properly and don’t poke out the sides. They will then close her up on the back!

Step 3 (Day 2 – Tuesday evening): Remove

Flip ‘er over! They then flip her over on the operating room table and start again. This time, they make two incisions into her abdomen on either side of her belly button directed towards her L1 vertebra; this is to avoid scar tissue from her surgery six years ago and to provide good “vision” of the vertebrae and tumor from two sides. Once in there, they chew away at her discs above and below the L1 to free the vertebral body which is then removed. They then spend an indeterminate amount of time carefully removing yellowish-white tumor from yellowish-white healthy tissue and nerves. When that’s satisfied, they will put a titanium “cage” into the space where her L1 vertebrae once was, tighten it up, and expect bone cells to begin regrowth in the next few weeks. They then backout slowly stitching things up as they go, while of course exploring where her previous tumor resection took place (around the inferior vena cava) in an effort to remove as much tumor as possible.

Step 4 (Day 3 and on): Recovery

She then lays in bed for some time to heal, eat M&Ms, drink orange juice and takes pain meds! Six weeks of this and she’s ready to start chemotherapy and radiation…


Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital is located at 1250 16th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404.

To contact a patient at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, please call the main operator at (310) 319-4000.




Clare & David

12 responses

  1. Wow, I will be thinking of you all week and in the weeks to come. Your picture, along with the rest of the cohort keeps popping up in my new office. I love looking at it every time it “appears” . All of my thoughts to you and David, your mom and dad. I will keep things under control here in Woodland. Please keep us posted.


  2. Clare,welcome to the rods in the back club..We are praying that all goes well and you will be back riding you bike soon.
    All our love to you,
    Tom and Marie

  3. Clare and David,

    I have been thinking a lot about you both these past few weeks. I just wanted to let you know that all of my positive and healing thoughts are for you! You can do this!


  4. Whelp, that sounds marvy. Eeesh. Thank you for explaining David. You guys, nobody wants to see you have to go through this. You are such a loving couple with great parents (I might add) and apparently impeccable taste in friends. 🙂 I am proud to be part of your support team/sag wagon and if there is anything I can do, even if it is to eat doughnuts and make fart noises in front of you, just to get a giggle and make the recovery time pass, I will be there. I’d like to make a visit up to see you, but will probably wait for the lull after the initial support crew of Clare/David fans come to visit ya. I know that you’ll also be very busy watching hours and hours of FOX News in the recovery room, so if you can fit me in on a commercial break- that’d be awesome. We can discuss. Love you, Mel

  5. Better living through science. This is gonna be great. We’ll be doing yoga in no time.

    I’ll personally supply the M&Ms if it gets you better faster.

    Mush love guys. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there this week, but this cold was bad news and I’m just barely starting to feel better.

  6. Dearest Clare,

    We’ll be thinking of and praying for you. Karolyn had a rod put in her back when she was 15 and hasn’t had any problems with it. You’ve always been incredibly strong, and now, your steel spine with be official.

    All jokes aside, we desperately wish you didn’t have to experience this and marvel at your composure and strength. We know you’ll stay strong and be a blessing to all those privileged to operate on you. We love and admire you! Hugs to you and your family.

    Laura, Ken, Susanna, and Roy Zahn

  7. Helen and I are snowbound until a snowplw comes thru our driveway. Kind a cozy. Thinking of you Clare and communicating with Laurel about you. Love you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s