Daniel F. Ryan, III obtained a defense verdict for an orthopedic spine surgeon in Camden County, New Jersey. Plaintiff presented to the orthopedic spine surgeon with symptoms and physical findings of cervical myelopathy. Cervical myelopathy is a dangerous and progressive disease of the spinal cord which if left untreated can result in catastrophic consequences for the patient. Plaintiff also presented with known problems of his lower back which were causing him pain. MRIs of the cervical and lumbar spine were obtained and the MRI of the cervical spine did show cord compression indicative of a diagnosis of cervical myelopathy. After confirmation from a neurologist that plaintiff’s symptoms were not being caused by some underlying neurologic condition (MS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Brain Tumor, etc.), the spine surgeon confirmed his diagnosis of cervical myelopathy and with the plaintiff’s informed consent performed an anterior cervical decompression and fusion on the plaintiff.

Plaintiff alleged that the orthopedic spine surgeon misdiagnosed him with cervical myelopathy. This alleged misdiagnosis resulted in plaintiff undergoing an unindicated anterior cervical fusion where plaintiff’s real complaints were centered around the pain emanating from his lower back.

The defense maintained that the surgeon appropriately elicited plaintiff’s symptoms of cervical myelopathy. The plaintiff had hyperreflexia, a positive Hoffmann’s sign, clumsiness with his hands and gait abnormalities, all of which offered further evidence in support of the diagnosis of cervical myelopathy. Plaintiff also had cord compression on the MRI of his cervical spine. Taking plaintiff’s symptoms and physical findings into account, the surgeon acted appropriately and saved the plaintiff from potential catastrophic future consequences related to his cervical myelopathy. After a one week trial, the jury rendered a verdict for the surgeon after deliberating for two and a half hours.