Spire Leeds Spinal Surgery – Improving Quality of Life for the Older Generation

Sylvia Crosland had reached the stage where she was unable to walk more than a few steps, but after life-changing spinal surgery at Spire Leeds, she was able to walk, pain-free, from the hospital. Sylvia, a retired university lecturer, is 79 with significant underlying health problems.  

Sylvia: “I was in constant pain since I broke my pelvis three and a half years ago. I tried physio and aqua mobility classes,  plus taking steroids, pain relief injections, and wearing patches for sciatica, but the pain was worsening. I couldn’t even walk to the car and felt I couldn’t carry on. Yet I faced a dilemma. I faced the prospect that having a spinal procedure might present serious risks during surgery due to having had a stroke and two heart attacks previously from anaphylactic reactions.” 

After doing some research, she was referred to Deb Pal, consultant neurosurgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital, who specializes in challenging cases where  patients sometimes have been told by other doctors that nothing more can be done for them. 

The diagnosis was degenerative lumbar disease with nerve root compression at two levels in her lumbar spine.  Sylvia:  “Following X-rays and an MRI scan Mr. Pal discussed with me in detail the surgical procedure he would perform and my underlying health problems. However, having weighed up all the information I decided I wanted to go ahead. It was important to me to have the opportunity to get my life back under control.”


Mr. Pal:  “Sylvia’s medical history meant she had a serious risk of having heart issues during or following surgery. Yet without surgery her symptoms would continue to worsen; hence the challenge!” 

Following careful assessment by the team, which included a cardiologist and anaesthetist, Sylvia underwent  a procedure in September 2021 for lumbar hemilaminectomy and decompression.  This involved making a 3 cm incision in the middle of her back. The muscles were separated away and the back of the spine was exposed. A tube was then inserted from one side and the bones at the back of the spine on that side were removed. The thick tissues under the bone, which were pressing on the nerves, were then separated gently from the nerve, using a microscope. The disc was also shaved to create increased space around the nerves.  

The two-hour operation restored her mobility and her independence. She was able to walk with a frame the next day and returned home a few days later. Just three weeks after that she was able to carry out daily activities and has now started driving again. Sylvia: “Mr. Pal is a miracle worker! I have nothing but praise for him. I couldn’t comprehend that at the age of 79 I would wake up after surgery without pain and with my mobility restored. However, that has been the case.” 

Mr. Pal: “The results were even better than expected and the benefits were apparent almost immediately following surgery. Sylvia now has her life back and should remain mobile and pain-free.”  Sylvia added, “I admire Mr. Pal’s personal philosophy that age is just a number and, after taking everything into careful consideration, that he is willing to improve the quality of life for the older generation.”

Do you have a story to tell?
We want to hear your stories and help you share them.