Back Care That Goes Way Back


Ray Burke with wife and care team

Ray Burke has struggled with back problems for years. His wife Jean even remembers the exact date of his first surgical procedure: December 16, 1999. There have been other procedures since then, and one orthopaedic surgeon has seen Ray through them all.

Charles Banta II, M.D., of Northpark Orthopaedics, PA and on the medical staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, was there for Ray’s initial back surgery (a microdiscectomy), then for a lumbar decompression procedure for cervical stenosis, and again when Ray needed lumbar decompression surgery and fusion in October 2014. Most recently, it was a stiff neck and recurring headaches caused by his cervical stenosis and continued spinal degeneration that prompted Ray to visit with Dr. Banta.

“Ray was a paratrooper in the service,” Jean said. “Years of jumping out of planes has led to ongoing back issues. He was dropping things a lot and always stiff in the neck and back. We knew it was time to do something.”

“The symptoms Ray was experiencing were a result of nerve compression, or pinched nerves, caused by years of wear and tear,” explained Dr. Banta. “When neck and lower back pain along with other symptoms are the result of nerve compression, the best way to relieve the pressure and alleviate the symptoms is to perform surgery. In this case, a posterior lumbar decompression and instrumented fusion procedure was performed through an incision in Ray’s back to give the nerve roots more space and to provide a stable environment for healing.”

The four-hour procedure was performed on a Monday. Ray was up and walking the next morning and home that Thursday. He will remain in a back brace for two months to keep him fairly immobile, but Ray doesn’t mind. He is thankful for the care he’s received for many years from his trusted orthopaedic doctor and from the employees at Texas Health Dallas.

Ray’s wife remembers the most recent hospital stay more than him, and she had this to say about the support the Burke’s received:

“The team at the nurses’ station on the fourth floor in the Hamon Building provided extra-special care. Wanda called me by name and made me smile when she talked. She even helped me on the computer so I would know what medications to get for Ray and understand how to track his recuperation and care. Josh Tippy took Ray on walks and got to be a good support person for him. If something was needed, it was immediately addressed and everyone pitched in. Social worker Kathryn Leonard and nursing supervisor Karen Hogg were also great.”

“I know the care Ray got wasn’t just for him. I believe everyone gets the same great treatment. We felt very comfortable at Texas Health Dallas,” Jean added.

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