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Star Tennis Player Nearly Sidelined by Scoliosis-Term life

Cade Pressnell’s spine was compressing his lungs to the point where he could barely breathe, but a new non-invasive surgery changed all that.

Cade Pressnell had been playing tennis since he was six years old. He spent his youth competing in tournaments throughout his home state of Alabama. By the time he was in the eighth grade, he was the number one ranked tennis player in his school. But as he entered his freshman year, everything began to change.

“I started feeling that pain, and I could only go for thirty to forty five minutes if that. That’s all my lungs would allow me, I couldn’t breathe as well, I’d run out of breath real easily.”

Pressnell was diagnosed with scoliosis when he was in the fifth grade, but when he hit puberty, it accelerated, “The x-rays came back and we saw that it was getting worse, it was compressing on my lungs, it was becoming a hazard.”

Without correction, it could even have been fatal. Pressnell needed surgery, but the standard procedure done by doctors in his area would have ended his tennis career, “All I had been hearing for like a month is you know we’re going to have to cut all the muscles in your back, you’re going to have to have six months to a year recovery and you’re going to have to lay in bed and not do anything.”

Worried about their active son being sidelined for so long and in so much pain, Pressnell’s parents began looking for alternate solutions. They found articles aboutVishal Sarwahi, MD, of Montefiore Medical Center. on the Internet. He had developed a new less-invasive approach for the exact surgery Pressnell needed.

He only makes two to three incisions in the back, far fewer than the twenty to thirty used in the standard procedure, “About four years ago the question came to us…maybe there is a better way where we can get away with doing less and accomplishing the same results and outcomes.” And they did just that.

Instead of making twenty to thirty incisions, Dr. Sarwahi and his team only make two to three. What’s more, he doesn’t use x-rays, so the patient doesn’t have to undergo any radiation. Using a state of the art navigation system, Dr. Sarwahi can see, in real time, where the screws are being inserted in the spine with almost 100 percent accuracy. But the best part? There’s only a four-to-six-week recovery time.

Pressnell’s father couldn’t believe it, “Dr. Sarwahi told him the day that he left the hospital, ‘Cade you can do whatever you want to. The surgical procedure that we have performed on you is not going to come undone. If you want to go out and try to play tennis tomorrow, you can play tennis tomorrow.’”

Pressnell was back on the court in 2 1/2 weeks, and in less than three months he was back on his high school’s varsity team, playing at the number one spot.