Broadview Fire Chief Gets Spine Surgery | News | Loyola Medicine
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Broadview Fire Chief Restored to Duty after Loyola Medicine Spine Surgery

Fire department crew members posing with fire engine.

MAYWOOD, IL – For more than a decade, Broadview Fire Chief Tracy Kenny suffered extreme leg, hip and back pain

“In the fire service, we think of pain as an occupational hazard,” Chief Kenny said. “For years, I worked through the pain or rested until I could move again.”

Chief Kenny’s pain steadily intensified, her left side grew weaker and she developed bladder problems. Loyola Medicine primary care physician, Ann Rudinger, MD, and physical therapist, Paul Bissler, PT, DPT, OCS, referred her to Alexander Ghanayem, MD, FAOA, chair of Loyola’s department of orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation and division director of spine surgery.

“The day before my first appointment with Dr. Ghanayem, I literally crawled from my office to my car, then from my car to bed,” Chief Kenny said. “In the middle of the night, I lost feeling on my left side and became incontinent. I thought I was having a stroke.”

One of Chief Kenny’s lower back disks had torn and ruptured and a piece of disk was pressing on a sack of nerves, Dr. Ghanayem said.

“We had to remove that piece of herniated disk from the area around the nerves,” Dr. Ghanayem said. “By doing so, you give the nerves more room to breathe and relieve the pain and dysfunction.”

Chief Kenny said Dr. Ghanayem put her at ease and gave her confidence to proceed with the surgery.

“It had gotten so bad, I really thought my job was over and it was the end of my career,” Chief Kenny said. “I remember waking up in recovery and not having pain in my leg. I’ve had no deficits since. I have had zero pain since the surgery.”

Loyola Medicine’s spine specialists diagnose and treat the full array of spinal conditions in adults and children. Loyola’s spine program includes a multidisciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons, as well as radiologists, physical and occupational therapists and nurses. Dr. Ghanayem’s specialties include the surgical care of the neck (cervical spine) and back (lumbar spine), including problems related to spinal disks, nerves and bones. He teaches the art and science of spine surgery, both nationally and internationally.

“Anyone can experience a disc herniation, but firefighters, paramedics and all first responders tend to work through pain,” Dr. Ghaneyem said. “When you get to take care of somebody who takes care of us, the people who run toward danger, that’s really special.” 

About Loyola Medicine

Loyola Medicine is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.