When Caitlin Barker was 14, her life was filled with the usual teen activities: school, friends, gymnastics and cheerleading practice. Skilled in performing challenging cheerleading stunts, the active teen never dreamed that there could be something seriously wrong with her body, until a minor injury prompted her to get X-rays. The films inadvertently revealed a worrisome problem—scoliosis, an abnormally curved spine that would require treatment.
What Dr. Picetti can do is truly an art. His attention to detail is amazing.
"At first I thought it was not going to be a big deal, but then I learned more about scoliosis," Barker says. "I found out that my spine was shaped like an 'S,' but also kind of twisted. I started wearing a back brace every night for about a year to try to correct it, but it didn't help. And that's when they suggested back surgery."
Caitlin Barker's mother, Maureen Barker, immediately began researching surgery for scoliosis and learned that traditional surgery involved a big incision running the length of the patient's spine. But there was a newer, minimally invasive operation that had become available as well—and the founder of the procedure, George D. Picetti, III, M.D., was at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. The curvature in Barker's spine was worsening, and so the Barker family made an appointment to see Dr. Picetti.
"It was a huge relief to meet with Dr. Picetti and find out what the surgery entailed and what the prognosis was—which was very, very good," Maureen Barker says. "What Dr. Picetti and his team can do is truly an art. His attention to detail is amazing, and they were able to correct her scoliosis with just a few small incisions." She adds, "Caitlin's dad and I were very happy with how we were treated, how we were communicated with, and kept in the loop on everything before, during and after surgery."
Today, Caitlin Barker is a freshman in college and says, "I'm really happy that I had the surgery. I'm just as active now as I was before my diagnosis. I'm on the trampoline again and doing tumbling—my flexibility has completely come back."
And from the teen's perspective, there is an added benefit to Sutter Health's state-of-the-art surgery: "I don't have a big scar down my back! I just have four little incisions on my side, about an inch long. So when I go to the beach with my friends, I don't have to worry about a giant scar. Nobody even notices them."