For Immediate Release
Date: June 11, 2004
Contact: Marjorie Schneider, 845-279-5711, Ext. 3007
Rare Eye Surgery Successfully Performed at Putnam Hospital Center
Putnam Hospital Center surgeons Renée Richards, MD, (right) and Steven Greenberg, MD (not shown), specialists in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus surgery, recently performed an extremely rare surgical procedure to correct horizontal gaze palsy at the Carmel hospital; less than ten such procedures have been performed worldwide in the last few years. Prior to the successful surgery, the patient, Alice Lucchese (left) of New Paltz, could not move her eyes to the right without moving her entire body to do so. The condition, which was corrected by the rare surgery, was the result of a brain stem stroke which she sustained two years ago.
Putnam Hospital Center surgeons Renée Richards, MD, and Steven Greenberg, MD, specialists in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus surgery (involving muscles of the eye), recently performed an extremely rare surgical procedure to correct horizontal gaze palsy at the Carmel hospital; it is likely that very few such procedures have been performed worldwide in the past several years.
According to Dr. Richards, the patient, Alice Lucchese of New Paltz, sustained a brain stem stroke in the mid-brain area about two years ago which left her with severe neurological impairments in her gait and speech, facial muscle abnormalities, scarring of her cornea, double vision due to a misaligned right eye and horizontal gaze palsy from a hemorrhage in the horizontal gaze area of the brain. The horizontal gaze palsy that affected Ms. Lucchese prevented her from looking to the right with both eyes without fully turning her entire body in that direction to see anything; she could only look to the left.
Wanting to significantly improve the quality of her life as well as her vision, the patient went to her eye doctor who, in turn, referred her to Dr. Richards. Dr. Richards is Professor of Ophthalmology at New York University Medical School and has a local office in Carmel. She and her associate, Dr. Greenberg, are both Putnam County residents. Noting that it was not the usual practice to have ophthalmologic surgery for this condition following a stroke, Dr. Richards consulted with her colleagues worldwide regarding the procedure and determined that there would be a definite upside for Ms. Lucchese if the surgery were to be successful while there would be no worsening of her condition if the horizontal gaze palsy was not corrected.
With the patient's full knowledge and approval, Dr. Richards and Dr. Greenberg agreed to perform the surgery, using an adjustable suture on the operated muscles to position both eyes. Following the initial surgery, Ms. Lucchese was evaluated post-operatively, and returned to the operating room for final positioning of the sutures. Hours later, she was able to move her eyes enough to the right so she could look straight ahead without turning her body to do so, and the double vision was eliminated and she was able to return home.
"This was very complicated surgery from a technical standpoint and the results so far have been very gratifying," Dr. Richards said. "I was particularly happy to be able to perform such a difficult case at Putnam Hospital Center because it’s a total community hospital—able to provide all the general medical backup such as intensive care, cardiac services, anesthesiology, etc. , as well as trained personnel—that could possibly have become necessary."