behrooz akbarnia
Behrooz Akbarnia M.D.
Board Certified
Ramin Bagheri M.D.
Board Certified
greg mundis
Gregory Mundis M.D.
Board Certified

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Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines
10666 North Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037

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A Physician’s Experience of Dr. Akbarnia’s Expertise, First-Hand

8 years ago, Dr. R., a busy physician and researcher, was diagnosed with a bulging disc and spinal stenosis. Under the care of a surgeon at a different practice, Dr. R. had a small piece of bone surgically removed from the back of his spine (i.e. a laminectomy) to correct his spinal stenosis and bulging disc. The surgery went well, Dr. R. returned to work, and all was well. 3 months later, Dr. R. found he needed a second surgery to remove an osteophyte (a small, unusual bone growth) from his spine. “For several years after that, I was relatively pain-free,” recalls Dr. R. “I had pain sometimes, but I managed it using pain medications and exercise.”

However, as the years passed, his episodes of pain became more frequent and intense. “I was then diagnosed with spondylolisthesis and had a third surgery to relieve my pain. Unfortunately, this surgery did not go as well,” said Dr. R.

Soon after this surgery, which he later found out had destabilized his spine, Dr. R. experienced a catastrophic collapse of his spine. “I was in severe pain. My MRI revealed that I had lost all my discs from L2-L5, I had spondylolisthesis in two places, and my spine was stuck at a 45 degree angle resulting in a 3-inch loss of height.”

Not wanting to return to the doctor who performed the previous surgery, Dr. R. made an extensive search for a new surgeon. “I knew the minute I met Dr. Akbarnia that he was the best,” recalls Dr. R. “Not only did he have technical expertise and years of experience, he had a wisdom about him that really impressed me. He also gave me one of the most thorough physical exams I have ever had. He even included a neurologic exam and sent me to a neurophysiologist who mapped the nerves of my spine.”

“He took my x-rays, measured my spine, and then sat down with me to talk about my options. Instead of just telling me what to do, we collaborated on a treatment plan. He made sure I understood what needed to be done and listened to my opinions. Now, I know I am a doctor too, but this wasn’t just professional courtesy. He’s like this with all his patients.”

Soon after, Dr. Akbarnia performed a lengthy and complex surgery to completely reconstruct Dr. R’s spine using state-of-the art spinal instrumentation and techniques, including anterior spinal fusion with special allograft bone cages and titanium staples as well as posterior spinal fusion with titanium implants including pedicle screws and rods. “Most of the other surgeons I talked to wanted to perform 2 separate surgeries on different days. As a physician myself, I know there are risks to that.” Instead, Dr. Akbarnia performed this surgery in 11 hours, as the patient was a candidate for doing this type of extensive surgery the same day. “He even had the neurophysiologist that I had seen before the surgery present during the procedure to make sure I suffered no nerve damage. Today, I have had absolutely no neurological damage as a result of my spinal surgery.”

At the completion of his surgery, Dr. R. regained 1½ inches in height and is pain free. “My recovery was remarkable, considering the complexity of the surgical procedure,” Dr. R. recalls. “I was standing within 48 hours, walking on day 3, and back home by day 10.” His recovery continued at home. “It took about 6-7 months for my usual energy levels to return and for me to be able to do all my regular daily activities. I was actually very pleased.”

Today, Dr. R. is back to his active lifestyle. “Most people my age who have had 4 spinal surgeries would just call it a day and retire. But I feel too good!” Dr. R. still has some discomfort at times, but he is able to manage it with a variety of traditional and alternative treatment options.

“I have absolutely no regrets about going to Dr. Akbarnia,” says Dr. R. “He and his team at the San Diego Center for Spinal Disorders work very well together. They make sure the patient has all the information he or she needs. I never had a problem getting in touch with him or his staff. They were all very responsive and considerate. I recommend him to many of my colleagues and friends.”

“If I could have done anything different, I would have gone to him first and not bothered with those other surgeons!”