About Us

  • Doctor Choll Kim, M.D.
  • I spent twenty years learning how to diagnose and treat patients with spinal disease; but the most important education I obtained was when my father became ill and I experienced what it is like to be on the other end of the relationship. I decided that caring for my patients requires not only that I am capable of performing state-of-the-art surgeries, but that I must care for my patients emotionally, and treat them as I would like my own family to be treated…with respect, concern, and empathy for their overall well being and the well being of their family and friends who love them.

    Choll W. Kim, M.D. Associate Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

  • Testimonials

     

    Kevin H.
    Age: 29 years old
    Occupation: Firefighter
    Diagnosis: Left L5-S1 herniated disc
    Symptoms: Persistent back pain and numbness of his thighs and legs.
    Procedure: Left L5-S1 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “I consulted with Dr. Choll Kim after injuring myself on duty. I had extreme lower back pain and pain going down both my legs. After completing months of physical therapy, Dr. Kim suggested his Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery. It has been 1 month since surgery and I feel amazing, my back pain is gone and the pain in my legs has significantly decreased. I am looking forward to being back to work as a Firefighter very soon. Dr. Kim was polite, professional, and extremely knowledgeable. I would strongly recommend that anyone with significant back pain visit him.”

    Dustin S.
    Age: 31 years old
    Occupation: Business Broker
    Diagnosis: Left L4-5 herniated disc
    Symptoms: Low back pain that radiated down his left leg to his left ankle.
    Procedure: Left L4-5 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “I could not be more satisfied with the results of my surgery. I had laser endoscopic spine surgery to fix a bulging disc from an injury I sustained years ago playing football. After doing research and meeting with several surgeons, I knew I was in good hands when I met Dr. Kim. I could sense his passion for what he does right away.

    On the day of my procedure, I was a bit nervous about the amount of pain I would have during my recovery. I had a shoulder surgery a few years prior that was extremely painful. Much to my surprise, I never felt pain at any time during my recovery. I expected to at least have pain around the incision... but nothing. In fact, I was in a considerable amount of pain walking into the surgery center and that was the last of it.

    I remember waking up my wife the morning after surgery to tell her that I finally had no sciatic pain running down my leg. I hadn't realized how much pain I had endured over the years until it was finally gone. A day after surgery, Dr. Kim texted me to see how I was doing. This was shocking to me. I have never had a doctor personally follow up with me the day after surgery and give me a direct line to contact them should I need anything.

    I have and will continue to recommend Dr. Kim to anyone who suffers from back or neck pain!”

    Sharon A.
    Age: 75 years old
    Occupation: Writer
    Diagnosis: Left L3-S1 stenosis
    Symptoms: Pain, numbness and weakness in her back, left buttock and left leg.
    Procedure: Left L3-S1 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “After researching a lot of different options, I decided Dr. Choll Kim was the best available surgeon for my back and leg problems. He came with great reviews and was a teacher of the type of surgery I was about to try. The traditional back surgeon told me I would have at least a three month recovery time and I hadn't heard any rave reviews from his patients.

    I had stenosis so severely that several nerves in my left leg had died and I suffered from back pain and sciatica. I was also told I had two discs that were degenerated.

    I traveled to San Diego from the Seattle area and went to the hospital the morning of surgery and after a few hours I was back in my hospital room a little drowsy but in no pain. The next morning, I was told I could get up, and to my amazement, I had no pain and felt better than I had in years. I didn't even want a wheel chair to get out of the hospital.

    It's been four years now and I am active doing yoga, biking, walking and recently returned from a trip to Australia where I hiked and snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef. I had great confidence in Dr. Kim and his skills and wonderful attitude surpassed anything I could ask for in a physician.”

    Sincerely,
    Sharon Allbright”

    Jean Paul O.
    Age: 69 years old
    Occupation: Retired
    Diagnosis: Right L4-5, L5-S1 stenosis
    Symptoms: Burning back pain that radiated from his right buttock and hamstring down to his foot.
    Procedure: Right L4-5, L5-S1 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “I have suffered back pain for as long as I can remember. Prior to meeting Dr. Kim, I had already had three surgeries on my spine, including one for a ruptured disk. I would classify all three as successful.

    Despite those procedures, I still suffered from back pain. Eventually, that pain began to radiate down my right leg, going down my hamstring all the way to my foot. It got to the point that my quality of life was severely impacted. Even walking minimal distances became very painful.

    Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and sought help. After much research, I found Dr. Kim. Upon meeting him, I was immediately impressed by his calm, confident demeanor. He diagnosed my problem and told me that he could alleviate the pain in my leg with a minimally invasive procedure that was referred to as “keyhole” surgery. I agreed to the procedure, and Dr. Kim performed a right L4-5, L5-S1 laser endoscopic spinal surgery on me. The surgery went well, and I was able to go home that same day. Post-surgical pain was very tolerable, by far the least of all my back operations. Recovery was quick, and, in a couple of months, I was out playing golf again. Sadly, Dr. Kim’s surgery did nothing for my swing.

    Post-surgery, Dr. Kim has followed my condition regularly. Should new back problems occur, I would consider no one but Dr. Kim to take care of them.

    It has been approximately five years since this procedure was performed, and, to date, the pain radiating down my leg and into my foot has not returned.”

    Sam K.
    Age: 29 years old
    Occupation: Coordinator at an international films sales company
    Diagnosis: Right L4-5, L5-S1 herniated disc
    Symptoms: Low back pain that radiated down to his buttock area.
    Procedure: Right L4-5, L5-S1 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “I was involved in a major car accident in 2011 that left me in pretty bad shape. I could barely get in and out of bed without feeling excruciating pain in my lower back and leg, let alone maintain a normal lifestyle of someone in their early 20's. I consulted with several orthopedic surgeons and looked into all the different kinds of surgical procedures that claimed that I could be pain free with their help. A bit skeptical of their claims, I read through different post-operative surgical forums online regarding the different types of operations that involved artificial disc replacement and fusion, which all seemed a bit like using a sledge hammer to swat a fly. After consulting with Dr. Kim, he reassured me of the quick recovery and success rate of his minimally invasive laser endoscopic procedure. I was in and out of the operating room within an hour and finally felt like myself after several weeks. It has been nearly four years since my operation with Dr. Kim and I wouldn't have been able to maintain the quality of life I enjoy today without his help. For anyone who's having second thoughts, Dr. Kim is the best at what he does and I would recommend anyone who's having serious back issues to consult with Dr. Kim and his team for the best possible care.”

    Mark S.
    Age: 51 years old
    Occupation: Carpenter
    Diagnosis: L4-L5 bulging disc and L5-S1 degenerative disc disease
    Symptoms: Hip pain, bilateral heel pain, right ankle pain and toe numbness.
    Procedure: Right L4-5, L5-S1 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “I arrived to Dr. Kim’s office with an injury that did not allow me to walk straight. I found it difficult to function walking day-to-day without limping and in severe pain. Since my laser back surgery, I’m now walking without a limp and have no more pain in my lower back.

    I now feel like a new person. I would like to share with any of Dr. Kim’s patients who are considering this procedure that I have the utmost confidence in Dr. Kim and his ability to perform this surgery and recommend to any/all of his patients to make the choice and do the surgery!

    I want to thank Dr. Kim for performing the surgery and to tell him, he has CHANGED MY LIFE!”

    Orrin M.
    Age: 71 years old
    Occupation: Consultant
    Diagnosis: L2-3 herniated disc and L3-4 stenosis
    Symptoms: Pain in his lower back that radiated down his right leg.
    Procedure: Right L2-3, L3-4 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “I was in misery. I had terrible pain down my right leg, in my groin, and my lower back. After an X-Ray and MRI, it was determined that I had a disc problem and stenosis. Dr. Kim performed minimally invasive laser endoscopic spine surgery while I was conscious enough to provide him feedback during the surgery. Sounds weird, but it was no big deal. After the surgery, in a very short period of time, I was completely pain free. It has been a couple of years since I had the surgery and I am back playing golf every week and all is well. I would do the surgery again in a heartbeat!”

    Estela A.
    Age: 28 years old
    Occupation: Merchandiser
    Diagnosis: L5-S1 paracentral disc protrusion that contacted the left S1 nerve root
    Symptoms: Significant pain, weakness and numbness that extended from her lower back down to her toes.
    Procedure: Left L5-S1 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “I've lost weight since the surgery. The surgery was great, didn't hurt and was extremely fast. The recovery was quick and hardly any scaring. I recommend this surgery to all considering it.”

    Guy D.
    Age: 62 years old
    Occupation: Retired Building Inspector
    Diagnosis: Left L2-3, L3-4 stenosis
    Symptoms: Persistent low back pain and burning pain in his left thigh.
    Procedure: Left L2-3, L3-4 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “I am happy to say that I continue to have no pain 2 ½ years post-surgery. Prior to the minimally invasive procedure on my lumbar spine, I was in great pain, which ran down into my left leg. Standing and walking was terribly painful. After exhausting all the non-surgical alternatives, I chose to have Dr. Choll Kim go ahead with the procedure. Almost immediately after it was done, the pain was gone, and has not returned. I highly recommend this procedure for anyone who has been diagnosed to need it.”

    David R.
    Age: 74 years old
    Occupation: Real Estate
    Diagnosis: L3-4 spondylolisthesis and L3-4, L4-5 stenosis
    Symptoms: Right buttock pain that radiated down his right leg along with weakness when going up and down stairs.
    Procedure: Right L3-4, L4-5 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “I am thankful every day for the wonderful work Dr. Kim did on me, leaving me pain free and with full mobility. It was amazing. I had surgery on my spine the year before with another surgeon but the pain and difficulty returned after a short time. Dr. Kim’s non-invasive procedure used a 1 inch or so incision (vs 6 inches the year before) and, amazingly, I was back home in my kitchen eating chicken soup (the ultimate medicine) that afternoon. The pain has never returned.”

    Hratch V.
    Age: 59 years old
    Diagnosis: Right L5-S1 recurrent foraminal stenosis
    Symptoms: Back pain that radiated down to his buttock, thigh and feet, which caused him to have difficulty standing and participating in any activities that involved twisting.
    Procedure: Right L5-S1 Laser Endoscopic Spine Surgery (LESS)

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    “The laser endoscopic spinal procedure Dr. Kim performed was a breeze in comparison to the 2 previous traditional operations I underwent including the Laminectomy in 2003. And, the recovery was so much easier than the traditional operations I experienced. It's been just over 3 years since my procedure and has resulted in a definite improvement of my chronic back pain.”

    Giles B.
    Age: 59 years old
    Occupation: Retired
    Diagnosis: L2-3, L3-4 spondylolisthesis and stenosis
    Symptoms: Lower back pain that radiated down both of his legs and worsened when he coughed or sneezed.
    Procedure: Right L2-3, L3-4 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

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    “In February 2012, Dr. Choll Kim performed a minimally invasive laser endoscopic procedure on my L2-3 and L3-4, which completely eliminated my pain. The process was minimally painful and over quickly. Dr. Choll Kim was both professional and comforting throughout.”

    Jeff S.
    Age: 68 years old
    Occupation: Senior Consultant
    Diagnosis: Right L3-4, L4-5 stenosis, post laminectomies
    Symptoms: Pain that radiated down the right leg.
    Procedure: Right L3-4, L4-5 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

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    “I had sciatic pain level 9-10 to the point where I could barely walk. I had an L2-L4 laminectomy in 2000 and was on disability for 4 months. This time I wanted minimally invasive surgery. I researched various procedures and surgeons and took a chance with Dr. Kim. I sent his office my MRI to see if they might be able to help. To my surprise, I received a diagnosis letter from Dr. Kim himself stating that I was a candidate for LESS. The procedure went so well that I walked out of the hospital a few hours later and 3 months later there is only occasional minor pain (level 1 or 2). Throughout the entire process including post op, Dr. Kim and his office staff were totally professional, I would recommend to anyone that if they are contemplating back surgery; see Dr. Kim first.”

    Barbara R.
    Age: 74 years old
    Occupation: Senior Consultant
    Diagnosis: Left L5-S1 disc herniation
    Symptoms: Stabbing pain that radiated from her left leg to her left foot. She could not walk without a cane, could not stand for more than 3 minutes and could not sleep for more than 6 hours at a time.
    Procedure: Left L5-S1 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

    “I had sciatic pain level 9-10 to the point where I could barely walk. I had an L2-L4 laminectomy in 2000 and was on disability for 4 months. This time I wanted minimally invasive surgery. I researched various procedures and surgeons and took a chance with Dr. Kim. I sent his office my MRI to see if they might be able to help. To my surprise, I received a diagnosis letter from Dr. Kim himself stating that I was a candidate for LESS. The procedure went so well that I walked out of the hospital a few hours later and 3 months later there is only occasional minor pain (level 1 or 2). Throughout the entire process including post op, Dr. Kim and his office staff were totally professional, I would recommend to anyone that if they are contemplating back surgery; see Dr. Kim first.”

    Barbara R.
    Age: 74 years old
    Occupation: Senior Consultant
    Diagnosis: Left L5-S1 disc herniation
    Symptoms: Stabbing pain that radiated from her left leg to her left foot. She could not walk without a cane, could not stand for more than 3 minutes and could not sleep for more than 6 hours at a time.
    Procedure: Left L5-S1 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

    “I had a pinched nerve at L5-S1. This caused me great pain going down my left leg. My life was limited and I was using a cane. I was always in pain, and could not stand for more than a few minutes or walk more than a block. My surgery took about an hour, if I remember right, and I walked from recovery to the bathroom without pain a half hour later. I went home that night. The next day I was overjoyed at the lack of pain. Without question, the surgery was a success, and I highly recommend Dr. Choll Kim to anyone who is considering it. He is outstanding and has a glowing reputation.”

    James H.
    Age: 62 years old
    Occupation: Dentist
    Diagnosis: L3-4 stenosis with right foraminal disc herniation
    Symptoms: Low back pain that radiated down his right thigh. The pain was exacerbated with prolonged standing and walking to the extent that getting through a shower was excruciating.
    Procedure: Right L3-4 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

    “I will be forever grateful to Dr. Choll Kim for his surgical intervention a couple years ago. As a practicing dentist of 35 years and a post college basketball player I had lots of physical issues, but none more challenging than my bulging disc and fairly advanced stenosis that had rendered my quality of life to near misery. We decided on an outpatient, minimally invasive procedure to shave the disc and enlarge foramina space to reduce offending nerve impingement. This was done with conscious sedation and there was no discomfort. I was able to walk out a couple hours later and through a regimen of physical therapy and core strengthening, I have been able to return to relatively normal activities.

    Respectfully yours,
    Dr. James L. Hill”

    Sean S. Age: 38 years old Occupation: Bartender and Triathlete Diagnosis: Right L5-S1 herniated disc with radiculopathy Symptoms: Pain that radiated down his right leg to his calf with prolonged sitting, bending forward and sudden movements such as sneezing. Procedure: Right L5-S1 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS) “Prior to the procedure, I experienced excruciating pain radiating from my buttock to my mid-calf. Any seated position was impossible. I could only lay down to sleep with the use of prescribed pain killers. I had been very active in sports; I was training and racing triathlon at an elite level. This injury prevented me from competing at any level. I was depressed. My notion of self-worth and sense of enjoyment revolved around physical activity - which I could not do. I tried a number of treatment options before seeing Dr. Kim. These included acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, and epidural injections - none of which provided any significant relief. Dr. Kim diagnosed the issue accurately. He and his team were able to expedite the procedure in a timely manner. The level of care was second to none. Following the procedure, the pain subsided almost immediately and has not returned. I have no problem sitting for extended periods of time nor do I rely on pain medication to sleep. I currently train and race triathlon with many of the same people I did pre-injury.”

    Sean S.
    Age: 38 years old
    Occupation: Bartender and Triathlete
    Diagnosis: Right L5-S1 herniated disc with radiculopathy
    Symptoms: Pain that radiated down his right leg to his calf with prolonged sitting, bending forward and sudden movements such as sneezing.
    Procedure: Right L5-S1 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

    “Prior to the procedure, I experienced excruciating pain radiating from my buttock to my mid-calf. Any seated position was impossible. I could only lay down to sleep with the use of prescribed pain killers. I had been very active in sports; I was training and racing triathlon at an elite level. This injury prevented me from competing at any level. I was depressed. My notion of self-worth and sense of enjoyment revolved around physical activity - which I could not do.

    I tried a number of treatment options before seeing Dr. Kim. These included acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, and epidural injections - none of which provided any significant relief.

    Dr. Kim diagnosed the issue accurately. He and his team were able to expedite the procedure in a timely manner. The level of care was second to none.

    Following the procedure, the pain subsided almost immediately and has not returned. I have no problem sitting for extended periods of time nor do I rely on pain medication to sleep.

    I currently train and race triathlon with many of the same people I did pre-injury.”

    Ed B. Age: 78 years old Occupation: Retired Diagnosis: L3-4 spondylolisthesis and L4-5 stenosis Symptoms: Low back pain and numbness from his left leg to his left foot. Procedure: Left L3-4, L4-5 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

    Ed B.
    Age: 78 years old
    Occupation: Retired
    Diagnosis: L3-4 spondylolisthesis and L4-5 stenosis
    Symptoms: Low back pain and numbness from his left leg to his left foot.
    Procedure: Left L3-4, L4-5 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

    “My back problems started in July, of 2011. I was experiencing lower back pain and my left leg was going numb when I would stand for even short periods of time.

    After Dr. Kim examined my previous medical tests, and from his own medical examination, Dr. Kim concluded and recommended that I undergo minimally invasive surgery to correct the problems.

    I followed Dr. Kim’s recommendation and had the surgery one month later. If I remember correctly, the operation lasted 3 1/2 hours. By late afternoon the same day, I was able to walk out of the hospital unaided. What is remarkable is that after leaving the hospital, I did not need any pain medication, not even an aspirin. I had two small incisions on my back covered with small band aids. Out of caution, I took it easy for a day or two, but within one week, I was back to my normal routine.

    I have nothing but praise for Dr. Kim and his staff in assisting me in dealing with this painful experience. I have no hesitation in recommending Dr. Kim to persons with similar problems.”

    Jeff C.
    Age: 60 years old
    Occupation: Retired firefighter
    Diagnosis: Right L4-5 disc herniation
    Symptoms: Pain that started from the right side of his low back and radiated down his right buttock, right thigh and to his right ankle.
    Procedure: Right L4-5 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

    “I was in tremendous pain and discomfort, and Dr. Kim looked at every alternative before surgery. I completely appreciated that approach having never had surgery before, and having more than a few people advise me to avoid surgery at all costs!

    Having received several injections that initially gave me relief but eventually wore off, Dr. Kim’s laser endoscopic spine surgery was my prayer answered. Two days after surgery I was able to discontinue all drug therapy except for Ibuprofen, and less than six months later, I stopped taking even that. Unbelievable! I still have some minor discomfort from time to time, but am truly relieved from the pain I was in.”

    Jeff C.
    Age: 54 years old
    Occupation: Senior Account Executive
    Diagnosis: Severe right L5 neuroforaminal stenosis and degenerative scoliosis
    Symptoms: Low back pain that radiated down his right leg.
    Procedure: Right L5-S1 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

    “My surgery in August 2014 was a beautiful success! I was back to work, sitting at a desk for a couple of hours a day within four weeks of the surgery and back full time in the 4th month. I was up and walking the day of my surgery and the pain and numbness in my legs are completely gone.

    I would like to thank Dr. Kim and his team for an excellent experience, as excellent as back surgery and recovery could be expected!”

    Lucia M.
    Age: 66 years old
    Diagnosis: Left L4-5 disc herniation and left L5-S1 neuroforaminal stenosis
    Symptoms: Pain that started in the coccyx area and radiated down her left leg to the top of her foot.
    Procedure: Left L4-5, L5-S1 laser endoscopic spine surgery (LESS)

    “Before my serious back issues, I was living a vibrant and active life. I was playing golf 3 - 4 times per week. When my back issues surfaced, my lifestyle changed andI had to give up the activities that I loved. I saw a doctor in the L.A. area and had an invasive surgical procedure to fix my back problem. It did not help and I grew frustrated. I was then referred to Dr. Kim and that was a seminal moment in my life. We discussed my issues and developed a game plan for getting healthy, which included laser endoscopic spine surgery. I was apprehensive and nervous about the procedure, that was three years ago. Today, I am back to playing golf every week and my game and my life is good.”

    David Campbell

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    Comments:
    "You can't compare one to the other," says David Campbell when describing his prior surgeries to the new minimally invasive surgical experience with Dr. Choll Kim and the specialized staff at Alvarado Hospital. Over the past ten years, Campbell's degenerative spine had resulted in three difficult traditional surgeries, numerous titanium plates and screws and months of recovery time. Finally, he heard a radio ad for an Alvarado spine seminar. It was there Campbell met Dr. Kim, a leader in the revolutionary field of minimally invasive spine surgery and immediately afterwards set an office appointment. According to Campbell, three key factors set Dr. Kim and Alvarado Hospital apart:

    1. The Diagnosis: "I had the best doctor," establishes Campbell. "Dr. Kim did not rush into surgery. He went to great lengths examining my health conditions, reviewing my past surgeries and meticulously determining the right diagnosis, so that on the day of surgery there were no surprises. He knew exactly what needed to be done. He even removed some of the unnecessary titanium equipment that was interfering with my progress. The day after surgery, I was on my feet, the pain in my legs gone." Campbell was amazed, "It was instant relief!"

    2. The Staff: "It's so different when everyone specializes in spine - they aren't just generalists - and they know what they are doing," Campbell adds. "The nurses were outstanding. There was a flawless transition from one shift to the next. Thank you, Sarah, Arlan and Andy."

    3. The Spine Zone: "The Spine Zone is a crucial element of long term care," further explains Campbell. "You can't find these types of machines at a regular gym. I was supervised by a spine therapist. I've learned body mechanics and life-long lessons I can take home." Even after completing the recommended rehabilitation, Campbell still goes to the Spine Zone. "The follow-up care has made such a difference in my enjoying life again."

    Since his surgery, Campbell has referred several friends to Dr.Kim and the spine team at Alvarado Hospital. "I'm his biggest fan," Campbell proclaims.

    Jeanette Maggiore-Anet

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    Comments:
    "The minimally invasive surgery was amazing... to have the pain subside so quickly. I felt the difference immediately". Jeanette is a wife and mother of two children. Ten years ago, she was in a car accident that threw her discs out of alignment. The pain and constant burning sensation in her legs made even simple tasks difficult. For a while, Jeanette endured epidural shots that enabled her to walk for a period of 24 hours per shot but eventually she underwent surgery twice and was told she may have pain forever. Luckily, Jeanette found Dr. Choll Kim, a minimally invasive spine specialist at Alvarado Hospital. Using leading-edge GPS-like Stealth technology, Dr. Kim was able to pinpoint the exact location of Jeanette's problem and perform a corrective surgery through tiny incisions. Within a day Jeanette was able to walk!

    WATCH A NEWS INTERVIEW WITH JEANETTE

     

    Comments:
    I am a 32 year old woman who would be in great health if not for a recent back problem. I was diagnosed with a herniated L4-L5 disk, degenerative disk disease, and an annulus disk tear about 2.5 years ago. After managing the first two years through regular, sustained physical therapy and medicine, the situation deteriorated so much that I could hardly walk, sit, work, or function normally, and physical therapy was no longer helping. Unsatisfied with my prior doctor, who ultimately (and exasperatedly) told me that a traditional spinal fusion was the only other option besides living in pain, I searched extensively for another opinion from the best doctor I could find. I sought long and hard, and went to visit Dr. Choll Kim of the San Diego Spine Institute. I am incredibly glad that I found him, and that I am now under his care.

    Dr. Kim's resume is outstanding. He was trained at Harvard Medical School, did his residency at the Mayo Clinic, and is rated as one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the US & World News Report. Importantly, he also is a leader in the field of minimally-invasive, endoscopic surgery for spinal injuries. Minimally invasive surgery converts the barbaric and brutally invasive "old" technologies of back surgery to a version 2.0 which is much safer and makes healing much faster. The treatment is done through a tiny incision, using very advanced tools, so that your muscles and skin do not have to heal from being sliced through to reach the spine. This method reduces healing times and the rates of infection dramatically. Given the potential trauma of back surgery, I think it is incredibly important for a doctor to stay on the edge of technology, which Dr. Kim has admirably dedicated himself to...

    Read the Full Story »

    N.S.

    Comments:
    Dear Dr. Kim,

    Mabuhay from the Philippines! I just wanted to drop you a line to share with you my joy and happiness and a little news of our travels. As you may recall, my husband Ned and I, were planning to depart on a round-the-world yearlong sabbatical when you did my surgery in September, and I had been dealing with so much pain for so long that I couldn't imagine living with it any longer, much less doing anything remotely active. I am so grateful and happy to let you know the things I was able to do, pain-free, for the last few months, thanks to your gifted hands and wonderful care.

    Dr. Kim, since November 15th, I've ridden camels through Rajasthan, rickshaws through the streets of Dehli, and visited Mother Theresa's orphanage and spent all day helping nuns take care of little kids. Ned and I rode a rickety bus 18 hours to the highlands of Northern Luzon, in the Philippines, and hiked through the rice terraces. We also spent a lot of time on beaches and having fun... in fact I partied til 3 am on New Years Eve and danced all night, barefoot in the sand! Prior to my surgery, by late summer, I couldn't unload my own dishwasher, much less enjoy all of these crazy adventures.

    Dr. Kim, I just wanted to let you know that NONE of this could have happened without you. I am eternally grateful for your care, and for giving me an option to live a life with minimal pain when other doctors would only offer a risky, traditional spinal fusion or a hazy life on pain pills. I can't tell you how grateful I am. Thank you SO MUCH again for being awesome and for your work. I LOVE YOU! You gave me my life back, and you are truly an inspiration as a person.

    Nicole S.

    La Jolla, CA

    Comments:
    I was diagnosed with a herniated L4-L5 disk, degenerative disk disease, and an annulus disk tear about 2.5 years ago. Unsatisfied with my prior doctor, who told me that a spinal fusion was the only other option besides living in pain, I searched extensively for the best doctor I could find.  I went to visit Dr. Choll Kim of the San Diego Spine Institute and am incredibly glad that I am now under his care.

    Dr. Kim's resume is outstanding.  He was trained at Harvard Medical School, did his residency at the Mayo Clinic, and is rated as one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the US & World News Report.  Importantly, he also is a leader in the field of minimally-invasive, endoscopic surgery for spinal injuries.  Minimally invasive surgery converts the barbaric and brutally invasive "old" technologies of back surgery to a version 2.0 which is much safer and makes healing much faster.  The treatment is done through a tiny incision, using very advanced tools, so that your muscles and skin do not have to heal from being sliced through to reach the spine.  This method reduces healing times and the rates of infection dramatically.

    At our first meeting   Dr. Kim went through my medical history and was fully prepared, having ordered and viewed films of my back and having reviewed old MRIs. Dr. Kim confirmed that the treatment that would potentially "fix" my problem would be a spinal fusion.   I wanted to avoid the spinal fusion at all costs. Dr. Kim and I decided to continue with a new physical therapist and medicine for 4-6 weeks.  He gave me his CELL PHONE NUMBER and let me know that I could call him any time.  I went to a follow up meeting four weeks later, still in pain.  Dr. Kim suggested a smaller surgery to "clean up" my disk. The less invasive surgery would not entirely fix my problem, but it should help reduce chronic pain. The surgery I had was theTransforaminal Endoscopic Spinal Surgery (TESS), which is shown on his website.

    I was impressed with Dr. Kim's office throughout the surgery planning. Professional and organized, the office made sure that I was comfortable with all of the details of the procedure.

    Surgery Day:
    * 2 hours of pre-op prep work nurses
    * About 15 minutes before the scheduled surgery, the anesthesiologist came to meet with me and explained the planned method of sedating me and relieving pain.  
    * One very important matter is that I was not given general anesthesia for the surgery. General anesthesia is one of the riskiest parts of surgery. It is not needed for this minimally invasive surgery, since the patient is not cut open.  
    * I was wheeled into the operating room without pain medication or sedation.  
    * I was laid face down and made very comfortable.  
    * Through my IV, the anesthesiologist gave me something sedative. He then gave me a little bit of whatever they use for general anesthesia, something for nausea, and something that almost completely took away pain.
    * What they gave me as a sedative helped tremendously.  I felt very relaxed and did not worry about whether they were cutting me (or not). Although I was not asleep, I did not feel them make an incision to insert the endoscopic tools for the surgery, and was not aware of when the surgery started.
    * The surgery required using a tool to wide a hole between my vertebrae. Specifically that means that at some point, they drilled my bone. It did not hurt. I did feel and hear a tapping sound
    * Overall, I was not panicked or upset or emotional at all during the surgery. I felt okay and did not worry, thanks to the medicine. I felt fine throughout the surgery which took about 2 hours.
    * There were a few moments of pain, but nothing excruciating. I felt tingling in my toes at one point, and felt pain at one point. I let the doctor know, so that he knew he was touching various nerves.
    * The surgery finished.  I spent 2 hours in recovery.
    * I was in pain again on the ride home, again about a level 6.  I was able to walk around the house the same day.  It felt like having a really bad day with back pain.  
    * I am resting, and expect to heal from here, with a scheduled return to work in one week.  
    * I am very grateful to Dr. Kim because of the respect and care with which he treats his patients. Never rushed, never callous, and truly acting in his patients' best interests. A few key things I appreciated include:
    * Being given the doctor's cell phone number
    * The feeling of being truly cared for.  
    * One final note, which I believe demonstrates Dr. Kim's care for his patients, is that Dr. Kim is out of network for most insurance companies, but he does accept insurance. I note this because it is striking in comparison to some laser surgery centers which refuse insurance altogether and charge upwards of $30k per surgery.

    I am incredibly grateful that I went to Dr. Kim and that I am under his care. I hope this information is useful for you if you are making a similar decision, and wish you the best of luck.

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