Libertyville surgeon designs tool
Dr. Jonathan Citow, of the American Center for Spine and Neurosurgery in Libertyville, developed an instrument that allows for minimally invasive sping surgeries. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Name: Dr. Jonathan S. Citow
Vocation: Neurosurgeon with the American Center for Spine and Neurosurgery, Libertyville
Education: Graduated With honors From Johns Hopkins University; trained in neurosurgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center
Of note: Developed a minimally invasive procedure to remove spinal tumors
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:08AM
LIBERTYVILLE – When Bernadette Curtis began having trouble walking, the last thing she thought was that she had a tumor on her spinal cord.
And she never imagined that a new procedure would have her treated and home the same day — with no pain and little recovery time.
After two years of her ankles giving out on her, the 57-year-old Richmond woman began to look further into what might be causing the problem. A podiatrist conducted an electromyography on her legs and ordered an MRI that showed a tumor the size of a pea on Curtis’ spine.
“It started out with what I thought was my ankles,” she said. “They would give out all the time.”
And with a vacation to Disneyland coming up, she knew she wouldn’t be able to enjoy the trip.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to walk Disney,” Curtis said.
A chiropractor Curtis worked for recommended she go to see Dr. Jonathan Citow, an Advocate-Condell neurosurgeon with the American Center for Spine and Neurosurgery in Libertyville.
Thanks to a procedure Citow developed, Curtis had minimally invasive surgery that removed 90 percent of the tumor, and she went home the same day.
The standard way of removing spinal tumors or herniated disks requires large, open incisions with much lengthier and more painful recovery, said Citow, who lives in Glencoe.
Using a Metrix Tube, which “allows you to operate essentially through a long test tube,” Citow developed an instrument to open and close the dura — a lining around the spine — to remove tumors while using the Metrix Tube.
Citow designed the device and plans to make it available to other surgeons. The device is manufactured by Medtronics, based in Minnesota.
“Because we do it this way, the patients have far less pain and (faster) recovery,” Citow said.
The tumors typically are about 2 centimters in size, he said, saying that spinal meningiomas usually are slow-growing and benign. The incision is as long as a thumbnail and “the patients literally go home with a bandage,” Citow said.
In Curtis’ case, 90 percent of the tumor was removed, with too much risk involved in removing the remainder, she said.
“I had multiple fibers wrapped around multiple nerves,” Curtis said. “I was not in any pain from the tumor or the procedure.”
With about 70 to 80 percent of her mobility back, Curtis said that a couple of days after being home, she was vacuuming.