$1.75M Verdict Illustrating Herniated Discs and Surgeries on Lumbar and Cervical Spine

Ernesto L. Santos, Esq., and Ian Pinkert, Esq., Halpern Santos Pinkert, Coral Gables, FL

Herniated discs are among our most common personal injury cases because although these injuries may seem mundane on the surface, they cause intense pain, suffering, and immobilization for the victim involved.

In this case, the Plaintiff suffered severely herniated discs with annular tears in both his cervical and lumbar spine, which caused painful pressure on the spinal cord and cauda equina. Heading into trial, the patient had already undergone a two-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, but would still require an extension of the cervical fusion and a fusion on his lumbar spine.

Ernesto L. Santos, Esq., and his partner Ian Pinkert, Esq., needed a visual presentation that would help them capture the reality of their client’s spine injuries and demonstrate his ongoing surgical recovery. We delivered a series of Color Diagnostics and Medical Illustrations to achieve the following visual objectives:

  • Highlight the patient’s lumbar and cervical spine injuries with colorized MRI’s.
  • Demonstrate the surgery the patient underwent to address his cervical spine.
  • Show the post-op cervical spine hardware with colorized X-rays.
  • Illustrate the two future surgeries the patient would still require to address injuries throughout his cervical and lumbar spine.

The following visual presentation helped Mr. Santos and Mr. Pinkert convey their client’s painful journey, which helped jurors understand why their client deserved a $1.75M verdict.

Exhibit A: Highlighting the Cervical Spine Injury

The first Color Diagnostic introduces viewers to the herniated discs in the cervical spine, using color to add realism to an otherwise black-and-white MRI.

Cervical Spine Injury

The exhibit clearly shows the herniated disc at C3-C4 with annular tearing and the herniated disc at C4-5. The redness around these areas emphasizes the painful pressure this condition placed on the victim’s spinal cord.

Exhibit B: Highlighting the Lumbar Spine Injury

The next Color Diagnostic shows the third herniated disc located at L5-S1 in the lower lumbar spine. Similar to the exhibit above, we used color to highlight important details within the MRI.

Lumbar Spine Injury

The lumbar disc herniation is seen at the L5-S1, where it caused impingement on the spinal canal. Again, we use red to draw attention to the painful compression forced on the cauda equina spinal nerve roots.

Exhibit C: Demonstrating the Cervical Spine Surgery

Once we had introduced the injuries, we needed to show the patient’s surgical recovery, which started with anterior cervical discectomies and fusion at C3-4 and C4-5.

Cervical Spine Surgery

First, C3-4 and C4-5 discectomies were performed to remove the abnormal intervertebral disc material. A decompression was completed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and implants are placed into the interbody spaces. Finally, metal hardware is placed to fuse the spine and fixate it in place.

Exhibit D: Showing the Post-Op Cervical Hardware

After walking jurors through the surgery, the next exhibit highlights the post-op cervical spine fixation from the anteroposterior and lateral perspectives.

Cervical Spine Post-Op Condition

Simply telling a jury what a spine fixation looks like doesn’t do this condition justice. Seeing the cold metal hardware this person would have to live with for the rest of his life added powerful context for understanding this reality.

Exhibit F: Illustrating the Proposed Cervical Spine Surgery

After showing the Plaintiff’s painful injuries and surgical recovery up to this point, the last two illustrations break down the future fusion surgeries the patient would still need throughout his cervical and lumbar spine.

Future Cervical Spine Surgery

The first surgery the Plaintiff needed would be an extension of the previous fusion. After performing a discectomy at C5-6, surgeons would need to perform a decompression to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and an implant would be placed in the interbody space.

Exhibit F: Illustrating the Proposed Lumbar Spine Surgery

The last illustration breaks down the fusion surgery he would still need to address his lumbar spine.

Future Lumbar Spine Surgery

After performing a discectomy at L5-S1, a cage would need to be placed in the interbody space using pedicle screws to secure it. Facetectomies would need to be performed to relieve pressure and the spinous process at L5 would need to be removed. The surgery would conclude with the placement of fixation rods and pedicle screws.

High Impact’s team of visual strategists, artists and developers can build and customize your digital presentation for any case involving personal injury, medical malpractice, birth trauma - or any subject involving complex information.

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