Brian Cotton's Story - Bronson Healthcare
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In eight years since Brian Cotton's first back surgery, technology advancements like Bronson's O-arm® surgical imaging system have made spine surgery faster and recovery less painful. Bronson is the only hospital in southwest Michigan to offer surgeons this important tool.

Brian Cotton

Brian’s back had hurt for a very long time. Lower back surgery eight years ago removed disc fragments and much of his discomfort—for a while. When the pain started to come back, frequent visits to his chiropractor kept it manageable. But after a few years, the discomfort became unbearable.  

“It got to the point that my back hurt all the time,” Brian, age 54, says. “Golf irritated it more than anything else.”  Indeed, after playing league golf two days in a row this spring, he couldn’t get out of bed the next day.  

“I couldn’t move,” he says. Even scarier was the fact that his right foot was numb and dropped when he tried to walk. His chiropractor, Donald Wooten referred him to Gregory Wiggins, a neurosurgeon with the Bronson Neuroscience Center.  

To relieve Brian’s constant discomfort, Dr. Wiggins recommended lumbar fusion surgery.  This procedure reduces pain by eliminating motion at the affected area of the spine. By adding a bone graft “starter” to the problem joint, Dr. Wiggins set up a biological response in which Brian’s body would grow new bone to fuse the two vertebrae and stop motion—and pain—in that location.

“I was a little apprehensive, even though I had already had the one back surgery,” Brian says. “The words ‘spine surgery’ are a little scary.” But Brian knew he could not continue to live with constant pain. Once he decided to have surgery, he was anxious to get it behind him. “Dr. Wiggins was very thorough in explaining everything,” Brian says. “He described what he was going to do and answered all my questions.”

Dr. Wiggins used the O-arm® imaging system during Brian’s surgery. This device fits around the operating table like a giant doughnut, allowing a 360-degree scan of the patient. It also produces 3D images in about 30 seconds—which saves critical time during procedures.  With the O-arm®, surgeons can see the exact placement of their instruments, which helps them navigate delicate anatomy, preserve healthy tissue and perform more minimally invasive procedures. That means a faster recovery and better outcomes for Bronson patients.

Brian’s surgery at Bronson Methodist Hospital took about three hours, and he spent two nights in the hospital before heading home to Battle Creek.  “I was extremely happy with my care at Bronson,” he says. “I’ve been talking it up with my friends. The nurses were right there whenever I needed anything.”

The numbness in Brian’s foot disappeared immediately after surgery. And he has had less pain during recovery than he expected—less than after his first surgery eight years ago.  Thanks to the latest surgical procedures, he has only “five little scars”—none larger than two inches.   

Though recovery from back surgery is never speedy, “I have been very happy with my choice to have the fusion,” Brian says. After taking it easy for several weeks, he’s looking forward to resuming his job as a maintenance supervisor and—yes—getting back on the golf course.

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