View Full Version : Patients of Dr. Lieberman

10-02-2003, 03:10 PM

I live in the Cleveland area and am looking for patients that have had scoliosis surgery by Dr. Isador Lieberman of the Cleveland Clinic.
I'm 42 years old with a very significant "S" curve and need to have surgery in the near future.
I'd like to learn about what type of surgery you had, how you are doing now, what you thought of Dr. Lieberman and the Cleveland Clinic, etc...

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.


10-23-2003, 03:39 PM
Hi! Although Dr. Lieberman is not my surgeon, I have an appointment to see him next February (he was booked up till then!). I did a lot of research and was impressed by his expertise on adult scoliosis, the fact that he has given many lectures on spinal surgery, co-authored an Atlas on it, and has even invented impoved instrumentation. I wish I didn't have to wait so long to see him! He has also been involved in minimally invasive surgery. I didn't like the fact that one scoliosis expert I was referred to dismissed that option as a "fad." I want to see Dr. Lieberman to get his opinion on that, though from my research, I don't think I qualify anyway (my curves are 65 degrees thoracic and 58 degrees lumbar). I'm pretty sure he'll recommend surgery, so he will be my future surgeon. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how everything goes with you!

10-23-2003, 03:41 PM
I forgot to say that I'm 35. Looks like we're in a similar situation ("S" curve and all). I have two children, work 2 jobs, and go to college, so surgery will really disrupt my life! What degrees are your curves, if you don't mind me asking?

10-23-2003, 07:03 PM

Good to hear from someone who at least has heard of Dr. Lieberman and plans on seeing him in the future.
I have an appointment (2nd) to see him in January. I believe he only sees patients on Mondays.
I'd be interested in getting the links to where you found the information on Dr. Lieberman. I was aware of the minimally invasive surgery, I don't believe I would qualify either. My curves are 72+T (or 74+) and 64+L, it's been over two years since my last x-rays. How tall are you? I used to be 5'11" but am now a little under 5'9", hopefully I will get some of that height back.
Do you have much pain from your scoliosis? I get periodic muscle spasms, and I also have severe degenerative disc disease in L5-S1. That causes me more pain than the scoliois does. I do need surgery for both of my problems. I'm just not sure which to have done first.
The biological clock is ticking for me and scoliosis surgery. All of the doc's that I have seen suggest that I have the scoliosis surgery while I am still pre-menopausal, while my bones are still relatively flexible.
I just read a really great book: Scoliosis Surgery - The Definitive Patient's Reference, by David K. Wolpert. You can order it on line - go to www.SwordfishCommunications.com
How old are your children, boy(s), girls(s)? I have two sons, one is 18 and in college and the other is 15 and in the 10th grade.
You sound extremely busy. What are you going to college for?
I work full time, and busy with my youngest son and his sports, am on various comittees, workout and take care of the house.
It does appear that this surgery is a major disruption, reading the book I just suggested put a lot of things into perspective for me.
It was great to hear from you, and yes, please keep in touch.



10-24-2003, 07:29 AM
Hi. I found a lot by putting "Isador Lieberman" (use the quotes before and after) using google.com. I got too many results, so I narrowed it down by putting in the search "Isador H. Lieberman". That should give you lots of links to explore. It shows his lecture titles from conference brochures, articles he has authored or co-authored, etc. I remember the improved instrumentation he invented was "merlot" something because he came up with the idea from a wine cork and the article said it was very ingenious. My appt is also on a Monday, 2/16/04. I'm 5'4" but used to be 5'6". I signed up for some anatomy and medical terminology classes to help me with my medical transcription PT job. I thought it would help me get a job, but now that I already have one, I wish I didn't have the class. I dropped medical terminology and am only taking anatomy, but it is very reading-intensive with much memorization. Sorry to hear how much pain you are in. I am very lucky. I do have backaches and cannot sit still for very long, but I've been told it's amazing I'm not in more pain. I teach Messianic dancing at my congregation. Maybe God is protecting me from the pain for now so that I can continue to teach the worship dancing (aka Davidic worship). I bought several books on scoliosis also. My two sons are 6 and 8, 1st and 3rd grades. I lifted weights for many years to help keep my bones strong but do not have time to do it regularly any more. Maybe we could get together after your appt in Jan, but before you have any surgery, and we can chat. We could pick somewhere halfway, like someone just south of Cleveland but before Akron.

Take care and God bless, Heidi

10-24-2003, 12:44 PM
I just noticed another thread in this forum called "Physician/Hospital Feedback" under the Miscellaneous category. Since you posted the initial question about Dr. Lieberman, maybe you could copy and paste your inquiry into that category. If you don't want to, I can post a new thread inquiring about Dr. Lieberman. Maybe we'll get some responses so that we can both hear from people who have had him as a surgeon!

10-24-2003, 03:45 PM

I'm sending this e-mail from work. I've been pretty busy today and have had a couple of power outages.
I'll answer your e-mails over the weekend if that is o.k.
I'm excited that we found each other.
I wasn't aware of the other link. Yes go ahead and either post my message or create a new one, please include both of our names to contact if someone sees the message.

It's so nice to see the sun shining!



10-26-2003, 06:48 PM

I made a mistake and posted a new thread instead of replying to yor last e-mail. Just look in the same place, but the subject is Dr. Lieberman.

Sorry about that - I'm new to this forum stuff.


01-02-2004, 07:48 AM
Hello, Robin.

I'm scheduled to see Dr. Lieberman this coming Monday (Jan.5), and having just found this site/forum, was surprised to see his name here and your request for past patients! Was wondering if you have already had an initial consult with him and what your feelings were......any help you could give me with developing good questions to put to him. Did you ask him himself for someone you could contact? Have you consulted any other surgeons? It would be great to hear from you....this is such a difficult process in deciding just who's the "right" one to place my trust in!
Thank you in advance.... and hope this NewYear brings good things!


01-02-2004, 11:05 AM

How ironic, my appointment is scheduled for Monday as well. I think he only see's patients on Mondays. I'm having x-rays done before my appointment. My appointment with him is scheduled for 11:15, then after my appointment I have to return to work.
Yes I have seen him one other time, well over a year ago.
He comes very highly recommended. Just to let you know that when you see him you will be examined by his assistant first, then he comes in to see you. At least that is how it was the first time I saw him.
No I hadn't asked him for a list of patients who have had surgery.
I don't know if they can freely give that information out.
I'm not even sure at this point if he is going to recommend I have surgery. It's been two years since my last x-rays of the scoliosis, plus I have a severly degenerated disc in L5-S1, that also requires surgery.
My questions to him will pretty much have to do with which surgery I should have first, if at all. If no surgery is required how much longer can I wait and still get good results, etc....
Yes I have seen other doctors, Dr. Eppig (Metro), Dr. John Davis Jr. (doesn't do Scoiliosis surgery anymore - very nice doctor), and Dr. Gurley. But like I said, Dr. Lieberman comes very highly recommended.
Have you read this book, Scoliosis Surgery The Definitive Patient's Reference, by David K. Wolpert? It is very good, give you a lot of information about scoliosis, surgery, questions to ask, what to expect before during and after surgery, how to prepare yourself, your family, your life, etc...
Good luck with your appointment, I'll let you know how things go for me and please let me know how your appointment goes.


01-03-2004, 09:05 AM

Thank you for writing....my appt. Monday is scheduled for 11am....we just might be able to manage a "Hello" to each other!
I've not read the book you listed but have done some research on the computer. I've never had any kind of surgery performed on my back....but am finding it more difficult to withstand the pain...God, how I hate waiting in lines! Have you been struggling with decreasing levels of tolerance to physical activity?
I have seen one other surgeon (in Columbus) about 5 years ago and they recommended surgery then, but I just wasn't quite ready yet to face it all. My xrays then showed my thoracic at 62 degrees and the lumbar at 83 degrees (the 3D CT was awesome....and horrid....to view....have you ever had that type of xray?). They had mentioned instrumentation/fusion plus rods from both sides of sacrum into pelvic bones, which sounded horrendous. I'm thinking more of trying to see what other options I could consider to reduce pain and still have some kind of flexibility remaining. I have read an earlier posting of yours and see you have lost some inches (but still you are tall!)...I am 5' (and shrinking!).
It's good to have found someone here who is around my same age and also going through the difficult process of "what to do"... AND seeing the same surgeon. I'm in the process of trying to find someone to go with me, (2 sets of ears are better), as a friend who was going to go now can't. I live about 2 1/2 hours away from Cleveland and also hate to think of the long drive alone.
I see you still have a child at home and have a very busy life! My children are grown..... and I have 3 grand-daughters.... and I work fulltime as an LPN with MRDD individuals.
Please do let me know how it turns out for you Monday.... and again, Thank you.


01-05-2004, 10:07 PM

I'm so glad that we got a chance to meet today. How long were you there? I finished up around 2:00 p.m..
How did you like Dr. Lieberman? I think he is really quite nice.
What did he tell you? I sure hope it is good news. It is so important to get a couple of good opinions. Some doctors are so eager to do surgery right away.
I got good news today, my curve only progressed 1 degree in 18 months, that isn't even measurable. He wants me to continue my exercise routine and keep doing what I have been doing and see heim again in another year or so. He feels that even though the curve is 70 degrees, and it doesn't affect my lifestyle too much that it is too soon to have the surgery.
It's getting late, be sure to let me know how things went for you.


01-06-2004, 06:45 PM
Hi Robin!

I got out a little after 2.... and left with a very good impression regarding Dr. Lieberman. He's more on the conservative side than the surgeon I saw 5 yrs. ago....no mention of full instrumentation and stabilization rods! He feels the only way to try to alleviate my symptoms is to have surgery on my lumbar area. As for the "when" he says it's up to me....whenever I feel the pain has reached the point of interfering in my life so much that I'm willing to go ahead with it (and take that 1 in 10 risk of being "worse" after the surgery). I'm about at that place now so it's going to be getting myself lined up to where I can be off work that long (he said to figure 6 months) and be ok financially. It's rather scarey and I guess the hardest will be knowing I'll be dependant on family and friends for a period of time post-op.... with being single and used to being self-sufficient and the"care-giver" it's hard for me to think of myself being in that position. I'm thinking perhaps this coming Spring/early Summer.....there's some "readiness" prep I'd need to do also.... quit smoking!! Dr. L. asked me to raise my hand and started an oath "From this day forward...." and I juuuuust couldn't do it....lol. Need to get my alternatives lined up first....along with losing about 10 lbs as I can't afford to gain! But I will.... I know the effects of smoking in increasing the chances of bone graft non-fusion and also the increased risks of post-op pulmonary complications.

It's GREAT to hear your good news! I bet you feel relieved! Is it your thoracic or lumbar curve that gives you the most problem? And what kind of exercise program do you do?
It was good to see you there yesterday even though it was brief! Lets keep in touch, ok? I know it made me feel much less alone.... that seems to be one of the hard things .... not knowing anyone in the everyday Lives we lead with the same struggles. I'm glad I found this forum.... and having met you, happy to have a friendly face to now put with your email! Best of luck in your future "non-progression"!!!! :-)


01-07-2004, 07:28 AM
Geneen and Robin,

It was so nice reading about your visits. My visit with Dr. Lieberman is not until 2/16/04, but now I know that he is conservative and you both seem to have favorable impressions of him. Even though my curves are only 65 and 58, I think the progression has been increasing in the past few years. So I don't know what he'll say. There's also a chance prior drs measured differently, so he'll get a chance to compare many years' worth of x-rays and let me know his opinion. Even though I don't need surgery now (I'm only in mild pain), I'm going to let him know that financially this is the best time in my life to have surgery (great ins, short and long-term dis leave, and my husband is able to help a lot, etc.). Once I change careers late this year (to work at home as a medical transcription, which I do now PT), I'll have zero benefits. Being conservative, he may not want to do it now, but if he thinks I'll need it some day, why not now while I'll still relatively young (35). Once I have my appt, I'll post. Please keep your info posted, also!

Thanks, Heidi

Susan Kennedy
02-04-2004, 11:17 PM
Dear Heidi,
I read your post from Oct. 2003. I am considering surgery this year also. I recently saw Dr. Roberto at UC Davis in Cal. He said I would need a two phase surgery (anterior & posterior). My curves are 62 thoracic and 68 lumbar. He has not suggested that I need to have the surgery done at this time but I'm thinking that it would be better to have it sooner than later knowing that my curve is going to continue to progress. It scares me to think of how I will look and feel a few years from now. Over the past 10 years I've lost 2 1/2 inches in height; my pain level is increasing (about a 5) and my physical limitations are increasing at a rapid pace. Not knowing how I will feel post-op(meaning 1 year after surgery) it's so difficult to make a decision. If my pain were excruciating the decision would be made for me. Have you spoken to many people about their surgeries and do most of them feel they had a major improvement? Are they glad they had the surgery? Good luck on your upcoming appointment. Let me know your thoughts on making a decision.

02-05-2004, 12:08 AM
Hi Susan...

I know that you didn't address your question to me, but I thought I'd respond anyway. (No one ever accused me of having too few opinions. ;-)

I've run a scoliosis support group in the San Francisco bay area for several years, and have been active on the internet for almost as many. While I certainly have heard of bad outcomes, I can tell you that the vast majority of people I know who have had surgery are either immediately happy with their results, or will be by the time they're a year post-op.

Scoliosis surgery is definitely not a piece of cake, and should never be emarked upon without very serious consideration. In the end, it still has to come down to you. When you can't stand the pain and loss of function, you'll know it's the right time. If you know for certain that you'll eventually have to have surgery, my only recommendation is to do it sooner rather than later, and when the timing is right in terms of availability of caretakers, insurance. etc.

If you want to read my own story (similar to yours), you can do so at:


Good luck with your decision.


02-05-2004, 07:18 AM
Dear Susan:
I'm sorry, but I really have no idea when surgery is a good option and when it's not. I'm nervously awaiting my appointment because I have no idea whether I should have it or not. Your curves sound very similar to mine. Like you, I've lost about 2.5 inches (5'3-1/2, used to be 5'6), and the doctor will probably say I don't need it right away. My pain is like yours. It's tolerable and not severe. But because of my age and financial reasons (lack of insurance and disability leave in the future), I don't know whether to go ahead for that reason. Friends say not to do it for financial reasons; but if I need it some day for sure, why not do it now when I can afford it. I'll let you know how my appt goes. I was glad to see the moderator's post. It made me feel like I'm not crazy to feel like the timing might be right despite advice I'm getting. I'll see what Dr. Lieberman thinks.

Susan Kennedy
02-05-2004, 05:25 PM
Dear Linda,
Thanks for your reply. Your words were an encouragement to me. I feel that this is the year I'm ready to go through surgery. I need to hear about the success stories. I feel that my pain is directly related to my curvature and that in correcting the curve I should get much relief. Of course, my surgeon says he can't guarantee it. He just wants to be sure that I'm at a point to go through such a big surgery. On the good, painless days that's when I get second thoughts! I guess everyone goes through the same thing. I would love to hear from anyone about their surgical experience and how they felt right after and a year or more down the road.
You will probably see more of my entries over the next several months. I have a long list of questions next time I visit with Dr. Roberto at UC Davis. I am having the MRI's done next week and I see Dr. Roberto Feb. 25th. I have faxed my medical records over to UCSF (Dr. Bradford) and am awaiting a reply to set up a second opinion with him. I will be prepared to have surgery near the end of June.
I enjoyed reading your story.

02-05-2004, 09:41 PM
Hi Susan...

If you end up coming to UCSF to see Dr. Bradford or one of his associates, and can't bring someone along to help you listen, I'd be happy to do that.


Karen Ocker
02-06-2004, 05:20 PM
I had a revision A/P 15 months ago for an 80 degree curve which caused breathing problems (lost 30% lung volume and lost lung tissue). I am 61.

I was able to control pain by exercise and some Aleve but the breathing part and the progression scared me. My original surgery was in 1956 at age 14 for a 100 degree curve. My "solid" fusion weakened and was all the way back up to 80 deg.

The prospect for surgery is certainlly scary and is a very personal decision. In my case I was glad I did. I am back to work and basically comfortable most of the time. My revision was from T-4 to sacrum. I also had the thoracoplasty (hump reduction).

My point is, although this was not the first time, a good result is possible even in complex cases like mine.


Susan Kennedy
02-06-2004, 07:13 PM
Thanks for sharing your story with me. It's nice to hear you got such good results and that you are feeling so much better. I don't have any lung problems yet. My main discomfort is in the lumbar area and my neck. From what I'm hearing it sounds like most people who undergo surgery are glad they did it. That helps me make a decision.

02-19-2004, 03:17 PM
I just wanted to share with the other patients of Dr. Lieberman that I saw him on 2/16 and we set a date of May 18th for my surgery. We took many factors into consideration. I was especially concerned about the fact that I already have osteopenia in my spine (osteopenia precedes osteoporosis), which will continue to get worse, so surgical results would be better now. I was also pleasantly surprised that he only wants to fuse my lumbar curve, which is 58 degrees. Though my thoracic curve is 65, his nurse said the thoracic would naturally straighten. I hadnít heard that before, but I'll take their word for it. I asked if this would alleviate the necessity of detaching my diaphragm and taking out a rib, etc., that goes along with anteriorly correcting the thoracic curve and was told it probably wouldnít be necessary to do that. So the surgery doesnít sound as serious as the anterior and posterior one my prior doctor recommended at some point in the future. The lumbar curve is progressing rapidly (16 degrees in the past 2 years), though my thoracic was nearly as bad (13 degrees in 2 years), but from what I hear the lumbar curve would be the cause of a lot more pain later in life. So I wanted to go ahead with the surgery, since itís a good time for us (I have a disability leave at work and I have good insurance). It will just be an anterior spinal fusion.