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Chiari Malformation Benched This Young Hockey Player—But Not for Long

At age 12, Jack Cacace spent most of his time in school or at ice hockey. Suddenly, two conditions his family had never heard of—Chiari malformation and syringomyelia—sidelined him from both.

But not for long. Now 13, Jack is back in the game, thanks to pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Anderson and the team at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian. Dr. Anderson performed the surgery that relieved the pressure on Jack’s brain from his Chiari malformation, which also allowed the syringomyelia in Jack’s spinal cord to resolve. The entire operation was performed without opening the dura, the protective “sleeve” around the brain and spinal cord. (It is traditional to open this layer during Chiari surgery, but Dr. Anderson avoids the additionally invasive step whenever possible.)

Jack and his family couldn’t be happier with the outcome. But they also are grateful for much about the process—in particular, they are so pleased that they found Dr. Anderson and the team at Columbia/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

See, the family arranged to meet with a few different neurosurgeons, some of them right in their own hometown. But the family decided they were prepared to travel if it meant they could get the most experienced doctors with the best resources on their care team.

What they didn’t expect was how much that care team would come to feel like the “home team.” Jack’s mom, Josephine, says, “Everyone at NewYork-Presbyterian, from beginning to end—the nurses, the doctors, the support staff, even the security—everyone was just wonderful, they really were.”

And Jack especially appreciates Dr. Anderson’s manner. “He just kind of relates to you,” says Jack. “I think he does respect me. And he respects others, too.”

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Find out more about Chiari malformation here.

Find out more about Dr. Anderson on his bio page here.

patient journey

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