Make an Appointment : Patient Stories

Kim Byrne

Neurosurgeon: Steven Vanni, D.O., D.C.

Kim Byrne suffered from a ruptured disc in 2006 when she was 40-years-old. She struggled with spinal pain for the next four years. The pain particularly restricted the movement of her left arm, which was personally detrimental because it hindered her passion for professional dog training, an activity which she has participated in for over 20 years.

She first attempted to find relief through a series of epidurals near her home at a pain management clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida. She received epidurals which provided temporary relief, but the long-term pain persisted. Byrne then sought out Kevin A. Chaitoff, M.D., a pain management specialist in West Palm Beach. Dr. Chaitoff administered an additional epidural which seemed to cure Byrne’s pain.

In 2009, two years following her visit to Dr. Chaitoff, her pain began to occur again. Concerned, Byrne returned to Dr. Chaitoff for a reevaluation. She received an updated MRI.

Byrne recounted that upon reviewing the MRI, Dr. Chaitoff said, “You will definitely need surgery because there is a particular piece that is nearly penetrating your spinal cord. If you want an A surgeon I would definitely recommend Dr. Steven Vanni.”

Dr. Chaitoff expedited the scheduling of an appointment with Dr. Vanni because of the severity of Byrne’s case. Dr. Vanni gave a thorough consult at the University of Miami Hospital & Clinics, confirming that a particular piece was nearly penetrating her spinal cord. Dr. Vanni determined that the piece had been in its current position for several months. He communicated that the risk for permanent damage and the pain intensity would only increase with time. Byrne readily agreed to surgery.

The surgery took place on January 14, 2009 at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Byrne admitted that she was very nervous before surgery. She met another patient of Dr. Vanni’s in the waiting room before being admitted. The patient reassured her by explaining what a positive experience it had been to receive surgery with Dr. Vanni. She told Byrne, “You are going to the right place.” Byrne was very encouraged and felt calm as she entered surgery.

Byrne received a solid spinal fusion. The procedure was conducted successfully with no complications. Post operation, Byrne received a series of neurological tests to ensure the positive results of the surgery. One of the exercises involved a specific hand movement which Byrne was able to complete for the first time in her life. Byrne also commented that she noticed her back pain had almost completely diminished. She spent only one night in recovery at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Byrne’s general recovery was excellent. She did not need physical therapy and was quickly able to return to normal life and activities.

“My back and arm pain was completely gone, I only experienced a slight ache from the surgery for a few weeks once I returned home,” said Byrne.

Byrne also commented on the helpfulness of the neurological surgery staff before and after her surgery. She received a dedicated nurse that was in constant communication with her via e-mail.

“I was concerned about receiving surgery in Miami when I live in West Palm Beach but the distance factor was not an issue at all because the staff was so responsive.”

Byrne now has full function of her left arm and has returned to light training of her dogs. She is able to train outdoors three to four times a week.

“I am doing everything with my dogs, more than I was ever able to do.”

In regard to her surgery Byrne said, “I would do it again in a heartbeat and if I was to ever need another surgery, it would be right back to Dr. Vanni”.