Cook Children's Neurosurgeon Talks Medical Phenomenon on National TV
Richard Roberts, M.D., appears on 'The Dr. Oz Show'
Cook Children’s neurosurgeon, Richard Roberts, M.D., made an appearance on national television recently, recounting one of the most incredible cases of his career. On “The Dr. Oz Show,” which aired Friday, Dr. Roberts described the day back in September 2008 when 9-year-old Jordan Taylor arrived at Cook Children’s Medical Center. Taylor was buckled up in the backseat of a car when it collided with a garbage truck. The force was so powerful, he suffered an atlanto-occipital dislocation, also known as an internal decapitation.
“When I saw the scans, I thought that he had not survived.” Dr. Roberts told Dr. Mehmet Oz. “I couldn’t imagine that someone with that picture had survived that accident.”
Dr. Oz invited Dr. Roberts to appear on the show following the release of a book called "Miracles We Have Seen - America's Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can't Forget, by Harley A. Rotbart, M.D. For the book, Dr. Roberts wrote an essay about Jordan’s injury and unbelievable recovery.
Here’s an excerpt from that essay:
As soon as I evaluated him, I knew how severe his injuries were. His MRI test (a special type of imaging study) showed that all of the soft tissues under the skin of the neck were destroyed. Survival from this type of injury is less than 1 percent, and among those very few who survive, paralysis and brain damage are the rule.
Despite his devastating injury, Jordan’s spinal cord was not severed.
“I think the biggest shock was that he made it to us at all,” said Dr. Roberts. “His neck was completely unstable. His head was essentially not attached, except for the very little soft tissue that was left.”
Dr. Roberts put Jordan in a halo vest, which is a carbon-fiber ring attached to the skull with pins and secured to a vest on the body by rods. This allowed Jordan’s head to be held in a stable position. Then, in the operating room, Dr. Roberts used a titanium plate and rods to reattach Jordan’s skull to his spinal column.
Three short months after the accident, Jordan walked out of Cook Children’s.
“It was a sense of, not exactly relief, but that he (Jordan) had accomplished so much to get through this ordeal,” said Dr. Roberts.
This was the first time Dr. Roberts had seen someone with an internal decapitation survive. Not only did he survive, Jordan went on to make a nearly full recovery.
About the Source
Richard Roberts, M.D., is a neurosurgeon at Cook Children's. When a child with a neurological disorder requires surgery, the experts at Cook Children's Medical Center offer comprehensive care and state-of-the-art technology. With the help of such state-of-the-art equipment as the revolutionary intraoperative MRI (iMRI), our neurosurgeons are able to determine effectiveness of surgical procedures for cranial and spinal nerve disorders and tailor the treatment to each child's unique needs.