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Cervical Surgery: What a Doctor Says

I’m Maria Sophocles. I’m a gynecologist at Women’s Healthcare of Princeton, and my practice specializes in sexual medicine and problems related to menopause. In November 2014, I developed weakness in my left hand and severe pain radiating from the neck down through my shoulder and then to my fingertips.

As a surgeon this had the potential to impact my ability to work. What brought me to Princeton Brain, Spine and Sports Medicine was that I knew Dr. Mark McLaughlin professionally as a surgeon who adopted progressive ideas and had a reputation as being clinically excellent and spending time with his patients.

I immediately called Dr. McLaughlin and had an MRI. He made the diagnosis of two bulges into disks in my C spine which he described as massive. It was incredibly painful to operate, to take care of patients, or even to do activities around my house. As the condition progressed I began to develop weakness and that’s when Dr. McLaughlin and I felt there was no longer an opportunity for conservative measures like pain medication and injections, and that I really needed surgical correction of what was going on.

From the moment I walked into the office at Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine, there’s an atmosphere of excellence, caring, of attention to detail and efficiency which reflects on the excellence that the doctors provide clinically. I found this to be true in the front desk staff through to the PAs and even in the billing department. Everyone is competent.

They know who you are. They know what procedure you had,,,. and they know how to get you from Step A to Step B, The surgery went very well and I had complete resolution of my symptoms, and I’ve had none since then and that was November 2014.

Post-operative care was really flawless. I was told what to expect. The things that were becoming difficult for me were first and foremost my ability to treat patients, and do surgery, and that’s part of how I define myself, so I wasn’t ready to lose those things and those are completely regained.

Some of my hobbies like tennis and gardening are completely unaffected since I had the surgery and I will continue to be active for many years. At Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine they’re very clear and definitive about what you have. They really teach you the anatomy and talk about the pros and cons of having a surgical procedure vs more conservative management. I think that being educated about what’s going on really helps any patient to make a more informed and hopefully timely decision.

If I have to sum up Princeton Brain, Spine & Sports Medicine in 3 words or phrases, what I think the practice embodies is clinical excellence, careful planning (and I mean this both in a clinical and administrative sense)… and compassion. And compassion is not something we can take for granted in medicine anymore.

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