Sylvia Crosland
What makes Sylvia’s story all the more remarkable is that she is 79 and has significant underlying health problems which would present a challenge to the surgeon.
3 mins read

Cutting edge spinal surgery gives Sylvia a new lease of life

Spire Leeds Hospital is amongst Yorkshire’s largest hospitals offering treatment across over 30 medical specialties including orthopaedic surgery, cardiology, oncology (cancer care) and general surgery.

Spire Leeds Hospital is open to everyone; patients with private medical insurance, patients who are “self-funding” or paying for their own treatment as they go or patients who are funded by the NHS under the Choose and Book scheme. The hospital has an excellent reputation for providing extremely high clinical standards. The range of treatments, tests and operations that are available at Spire Leeds Hospital is very broad ranging and is listed below.

The hospital has a dedicated team of 350 nurses, operating theatre technicians and administrative staff. There are also over 350 consultants who base thier practice at Spire Leeds Hospital. Many of the consultants have worldwide reputation and patients travel from all over the world for surgery and treatment.

The hospital holds regular free public evenings which take place at the hospital and cover topics such as cosmetic surgery and womens health. The hospital offers a “Patient Mentor” scheme whereby anyone who is booked or considering having a particular surgery can be put in touch with patients who have had the same or similar surgery previously with us.

After three and a half years of agonizing back and leg pain, Sylvia Crosland, a retired university lecturer from Leeds was unable to walk more than a few steps and her quality of life was deteriorating rapidly. Then, after having life-changing spinal surgery at Spire Leeds Hospital, she walked out of hospital with ease and completely pain-free.

What makes Sylvia’s story all the more remarkable is that she is 79 and has significant underlying health problems which would present a challenge to the surgeon. Sylvia said:

“I was in constant pain since I broke my pelvis three and a half years ago. I tried physio and aqua mobility classes plus taking steroids, pain relief injections and wearing patches for Sciatica, but the pain was worsening. I couldn’t even walk to the car and felt I couldn’t carry on. Yet I faced a dilemma.

I faced the prospect that having a spinal procedure might present serious risks during surgery due to having had a stroke and two heart attacks previously from anaphylactic reactions.”

After doing some research she was referred to Deb Pal, consultant neurosurgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital who specializes in challenging cases where patients sometimes have been told by other doctors that nothing more can be done for them. She was diagnosed with degenerative lumbar disease with nerve root compression at two levels in her lumbar spine. Sylvia said:

“Following X-rays and an MRI scan Mr. Pal discussed with me in detail the surgical procedure he would perform and my underlying health problems. However, having weighed up all the information I decided I wanted to go ahead. It was important to me to have the opportunity to get my life back under control.”

Mr. Pal, consultant neurosurgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital said:

“Sylvia’s medical history meant she had a serious risk of having heart issues during or following surgery. Yet without surgery her symptoms would continue to worsen. Hence the challenge!”

Following careful assessment by the team which included a cardiologist and anaesthetist, Sylvia underwent a procedure in September 2021 for lumbar hemilaminectomy and decompression. This involved making a 3cm incision in the middle of back. The muscles were separated away and the back of the spine was exposed. A tube was then inserted from one side and the bones at the back of the spine on that side were removed. The thick tissues under the bone which were pressing on the nerves were then separated gently from the nerve using a microscope. The disc was also shaved to create increased space around the nerves.

The two-hour operation restored her mobility and her independence. She was able to walk with a frame the next day and returned home a few days later. Just three weeks after that she was able to carry out daily activities and has now started driving again.

Sylvia said: “Mr. Pal is a miracle worker! I have nothing but praise for him. I couldn’t comprehend that at the age of 79 I would wakeup after surgery without pain and with my mobility restored. However that has been the case.”

Mr. Pal said: “The results were even better than expected and the benefits were apparent almost immediately following surgery. Sylvia now has her life back and should remain mobile and pain-free.”

Sylvia added: “I admire Mr. Pal’s personal philosophy that age is just a number and, after taking everything into careful consideration, that he is willing to improve the quality of life for the older generation.”

Spire Healthcare is a leading independent hospital group in the United Kingdom, with 39 private hospitals and eight clinics across England, Wales and Scotland. Working in partnership with around 7,500 experienced consultants, Spire Healthcare delivered tailored, personalised care to almost 750,000 in-patients, out-patients and daycase patients in 2020, and is the leading private provider, by volume, of knee and hip operations in the United Kingdom.

The Group’s well located and scalable hospitals have delivered successful and award-winning clinical outcomes, positioning the Group well with patients, consultants, the NHS, GPs and Private Medical Insurance (“PMI”) providers. 90% of Spire Healthcare’s hospitals are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the CQC (or the equivalent in Scotland and Wales).

At Spire Leeds Hospital we offer a full range of treatments, tests and scans. To find more, please visit

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