Nina Pulliam

Image of Nina Pulliam, whose flat back syndrome was relieved by minimally invasive spine surgery at EvergreenHealth Orthopedic Care near Seattle in Kirkland, WA.

Diagnosis: Flat back syndrome

Treatment: Minimally invasive spine surgery


At age 14, Nina had nine vertebrae fused with a Harrington Rod as treatment for scoliosis.

The treatment was effective for many years. She had two kids and was able to participate all but the most high-impact activities (no waterskiing!).

However, chronic back pain began to slowly take a larger share of her time and energy.

In May of 2010, a long walk with her son ended with severe pain that sent her to the emergency room.

Her EvergreenHealth family doctor recommended a surgeon in the network.

“He was very quick and precise,” Nina remembers. “He looked at my x-rays and told me I had flat back syndrome,” a common complication of older scoliosis treatments.

“He ordered an MRI and used it to take me through the surgery step by step. I remember a movie from when I was a kid where miniaturized people traveled around the human body—it was just like that. We went down the spine and I could see every single vertebrae and where it had grown over the rod. I’m the kind of person who likes to know the details. He was meticulous, informative, and very friendly.”

After the twelve hour surgery was complete, the doctor called Nina’s family to let them know it had gone well.

“The doctor was there every morning in the hospital to check on me. He even changed the dressing himself one day.”

Nina also appreciated how EvergreenHealth applied the latest rehabilitation approaches.

“One thing that surprised me was how quickly they wanted me up and moving. After my original surgery I had lost 75% of my muscle mass from bed rest and I had to learn to walk again. This time I was up and moving right after surgery.”

Nina says her only regret is that she didn’t have the surgery sooner. “For years, my family and friends always asked me if my back hurt. They could see it from how I walked, but to me it was just normal. A week before surgery I could barely walk. Now I don't have pain. I can stand up straight, I have lost weight, and everything is just easier. Medicine and surgery have changed a lot since I was a kid. Whenever I meet someone with back pain, I tell them to go get it checked out—I’m sure glad I did.”


For More Information about Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery at EvergreenHealth