Back in The Saddle: Surgery Brings Immediate Relief to Back Pain

October 15, 2015

By Emily Turk

Standing still isn’t an option for Deborah Mills. If she isn’t riding her horse in the Virginia countryside, she’s playing a round of golf or skiing on the slopes of Idaho.

But years of persistent and progressive pain from a degenerative disc threatened to diminish her active life. And that was an outcome Deborah simply wouldn’t accept.

“I did my research and saw more than half a dozen doctors,” Deborah says. “All of them told me that open surgery to fuse my spine was my only recourse. But that would mean months of painful recovery—and I was very afraid of that.”

Early last year, pressure on Deborah’s spinal nerves was causing debilitating pain in Deborah’s back and down her leg. Standing was becoming difficult. She was at her wits’ end when she was referred to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital orthopaedic surgeon Bobby Kalantar, MD. “He was a breath of fresh air,” Deborah says.

“I wasn’t feeling hopeful when I asked him if there was anything he could do for me. But he said ‘Yes, there is.’”

Additional tests revealed that Deborah was a perfect candidate for a minimally invasive spinal fusion—a procedure Dr. Kalantar has perfected. As chief of spinal surgery and co-director of the new, first-of-its-kind MedStar Spine Center at Chevy Chase, Dr. Kalantar focuses on personalized care—and seeks the least invasive treatment option for his patients.


Deborah’s quick recovery following a minimally invasive spinal fusion at the MedStar Spine Center at Chevy Chase has her back in the saddle and pain-free.

Patient-Centered, Collaborative Care

The center, which opened in August, offers patients like Deborah a multidisciplinary approach to evaluation and treatment of back and neck pain. The team of physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians and physical therapists from MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, and the neurosurgeons and orthopaedic spine surgeons from MedStar Georgetown, work collaboratively to treat simple and complex spinal problems—from common back pain to congenital disorders.

“We work in partnership to promote the best outcomes,” says Dr. Kalantar. “Our job is to work with the patient to find the treatment option that is right for them.”

“We have a central scheduling number and trained individuals who respond to phone inquiries to ensure a patient’s first visit is with the most appropriate physician. Our offices are next to one another, so a consult can mean a simple walk down the hall,” he adds.

In addition to providing easy access to a variety of medical and surgical specialists, the center provides imaging services and state-of-the-art interventional spine injections, all in the same location. “We’re giving patients what they need most, when they need it,” Dr. Kalantar says.

Less is More

For patients like Deborah, the Spine Center can eliminate the time—and personal cost—of shuffling from one office to another looking for answers.

The answer for Deborah was XLIF surgery—lateral lumbar interbody fusion. “The procedure is far less invasive, performed in half the time, and results in a faster recovery,”

Dr. Kalantar explains. “Instead of cutting through the major muscles in the back, I make several small incisions on the patient’s side. I use a surgical microscope to navigate to the area, insert instruments to remove the disc material, correct the alignment and fuse the vertebrae together. It’s often an outpatient procedure.”

Relief was immediate for Deborah. “In recovery, when I first stood up, I realized the pain in my leg was gone!” she says. “After some physical therapy, I was my old self—playing nine holes of golf and jumping fences on my horse.”

“Dr. Kalantar is the whole package,” a very grateful Deborah says. “He told me I wasn’t alone in this. He said we were partners, and we would work it out together. And we did.”


Make an Appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our spine specialists, call our scheduling line: 

Phone: 855-605-BACK

MedStar Health at Chevy Chase

MedStar Health at Chevy Chase brings experts from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center and MedStar National Rehabilitation Network to the Chevy Chase community, making it convenient for you to get the care you need close to where you live and work.

Services Offered at MedStar Health at Chevy Chase:
MedStar Spine Center at Chevy Chase
• Primary and Preventive Care
• MedStar Health Urgent Care Urgent Care
• Neurology
• Women’s Health
• Endocrinology
• Thyroid Surgery
• Vascular Testing
• Imaging Services
• Rehabilitation
• State-of-the-Art Medical Technology

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5454 Wisconsin Ave., 11th Floor
Chevy Chase, MD 20815 

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