Great outcome in Nov 2017!

Roo, NY, NY, USA

Posted 2018-01-07

Dear Coccydynia Sufferers,

I had coccygectomy surgery November 15, 2017, and six weeks on, I am ready to report on my good experience. The crucial details first: Dr. Joshua Rovner, a spine surgeon in Englewood (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, New Jersey) performed the surgery at Englewood Hospital. (Do not confuse with another Dr. Rovner, on Long Island, NY, whose staff was dismissive on the phone and quoted his fee in the five figures). Dr. J. Rovner performed surgery about six weeks after my initial consultation, during which we reviewed my history with coccydynia - i.e., the previous year of therapies following a somewhat sudden onset after a long plane ride in late November 2016, the advice of other doctors, and the difficulties throughout. At Englewood Hospital post-surgery, I was given a script for painkillers of some kind, which I did not fill and did not need. I was fine immediately - arrived home from surgery (approx 3 pm) at around 8 pm, a bit nauseous and groggy from the anesthetics, and I took a walk the next morning at 11 am of more than 5 miles. No problems, no pain, no issues whatsoever.

I cannot believe I considered NOT having surgery, since the reports on the outcomes I read on this website varied so greatly and, after a year of learning to manage the sensitivities by sitting on one hip, tilted, and on a coccyx pillow, and on my bent leg, etc., I did not want to be worse off.

The success of my surgery can be attributed to several factors - primarily the surgeon - and my own good health and fitness, which readers can weigh against their own circumstances:

First, Dr. Joshua Rovner was a gem! I ended up in his care after a debacle with another highly recommended surgeon, (a sub-story I will detail below). Dr. Rovner's offices were clean, modern, spacious, and his staff was polite and efficient. I felt I was in good hands immediately, and I felt this way throughout the entire process. Dr. Rover surgical assistant was professional, friendly, and effective. Dr. Rovner told me that his primary surgeries are spine-related, but he performs coccygectomies to keep his skills strong, since this is not a common procedure. He explained the techniques he uses to make the healing process as quick and painless as possible, including packing the wound with painkillers and antibiotics, using tape not stitches to seal up the incision inside and on the skin surface, and sealing the wound with a waterproof bandage to keep the site infection-free, etc.

Surgery went smoothly. I was under a general before they put me on the Wilson rack (with tubes down my nasal passages for breathing while face-down), and I woke up with a lot of nausea - which was the biggest annoyance of the process. Other than treating the wound gently as it healed and taking no baths for a few days, Dr. Rovner gave me no specific restrictions on exercise or activities. Anything I felt well enough to do was fine - from hiking to biking. I took one cycle of antibiotics as prescribed.

Post-surgery, everything went exactly as he predicted: The wound was slightly tender; surrounding tissue was tender for about a month; anti-inflammatories (Arthrotec) seemed to help. The bandage started to peel off a week later. The wound (approx 1.25 inch) was clean and already healed up.

After reading the reports on this website, I expected to be on my stomach, unable to sleep on my back and unable to sit, for days if not weeks. I had carved out a month of low work demands, but none of my worries were necessary. Other than basic care one would take with a new wound, I had no special issues. As I said above, I was fine the day after surgery. I walked eight miles, and a few days later, did so again.

(A side note: The anesthesiologist used some kind of glue to secure the breathing tubes, which, approximately two days after surgery, caused a rash on my face from behind my ears to beside my nose that continued, increasingly red, itchy, blotchy, and painful, for about a week. Allergic and sensitive-skinned patients beware! Ask the surgical staff about the products, even if you do not have a latex or zinc allergy. Apparently, this is a common problem, and it only improved with prescription steroidal cream, and even then only after several days.)

Dr. Rovner's staff checked in with me the day after surgery; I had a two-week follow-up, during which I reported feeling fine; and a one-month follow-up which was same. I took no painkillers at all. Now, for the first time in a year, I am able to sit without tilting to avoid tailbone pain, and I don't think about lying on my side at night, so I must be passed that problem too.

Second, overall good fitness helps significantly with the recovery and the results of coccygectomy surgery. I read this in several other posts, and it is probably one of the factors that made my recovery so easy. If you have to wait nearly twelve months for surgery, as I did, or if you trying other therapies in advance of surgery, it's possible to integrate walking, biking, hiking, planking, and weight-bearing exercises into your day to improve therapeutic outcomes, as well as surgery.

The only issue I have now is that my IT band seems to have seized up. The PT says extreme IT tightness is common after surgery in the pelvic region. So, I'm stretching and strengthening core.

So, back to the main point, I highly recommend Dr. Rovner!

The sub-story: I was supposed to have surgery in September with another surgeon who specializes in coccygectomies, but the hospital staff neglected my case until the very last minute, and finally, surgery had to be canceled. I will not name the other surgeon, because he has good reports from other doctors.

Although I did not know it until it was too late, the staff at University Hospital in Newark, NJ, the teaching hospital of Rutgers, were the incompetents in my case. They failed to get proper insurance authorization, despite my numerous phone calls to remind them to do so in the month preceding my surgery date. Then, after weeks of telling me everything was under control, the billing representative, Michelle, called me to say she could help me out by "allowing" me to have a "payment plan" for the $4200 discounted surgical fee. Yeah, the hospital staff at University Hospital in Newark, NJ, failed to do the proper insurance forms in advance of surgery (which would have covered the procedure), and then did me the grand "favor" of suggesting I pay out of pocket! (Note: The person responsible for the forms, I am told, was later fired as a result of this and other similar screw-ups. In my case, this person assured me that the surgeon was aware of my unhappiness with the way my case was being handled and that he didn't care. On the other side, she lied to the surgeon and said I had unexpectedly cancelled my surgery, without any warning or basis.) The billing representative, Michelle, has not been fired, surprisingly. I am giving her first name, because potential patients should beware of her practices; apparently, she has been known to allow certain bills to go to their collections unit before she processes payments - as she did in my case. Also, Michelle is difficult to reach. In my case, she never answered her phone, and her emails were not responsive to questions but simply gave the number for the phone she did not answer.

Anyone having surgery at University Hospital in Newark, NJ, needs to be especially vigilant about their care and insurance approvals.

Update, 2018-01-14

Eight weeks out, I have almost completely forgotten that I once had excruciating pain around my coccyx. Even with pressure to the area, including the sacrum, and--amazing!--I do not scream in agony.

It would be wonderful if patients who reach out to Dr. Rovner would mention they found his number on your site. His office is keen to keep his patients satisfied with their work, and they seem to pay attention to their social media outlets.

Update, 2019-03-10

I have the very best update: I never even think about my tailbone. No pain, no nothing. Dr. Rovner (Englewood NJ, not to be confused with same name on Long Island, NY) did an amazing job that solved the problem entirely and allowed me to put my life back on track. Cannot recommend his surgical skills and his staff's professionalism highly enough.

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