Dr. Teresa Chan-Leveno surgery 7/5/22 and background

Hi all!

I am writing to share my experience finding and receiving care in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex in hopes it will help others.

I first started experiencing symptoms in the summer of 2019. At this time, the majority of my feeling was a choking sensation. I went to my PCP in late 2020 when the symptoms started worsening to ear/throat pain and teeth pain. My PCP referred me to a local ENT who believed the feeling to be caused by reflux. I was placed on a regimen of different reflux medications over the next year and a half. All of which provided no relief. For the last 15 years or so I had also experienced occasional jaw pain. In late 2020, my jaw popped causing excruciating pain. I expressed TMJ concerns to my local ENT who provided some pain cream for my jaw and requested I follow up with my dentist.

I shared concerns about jaw pain and clicking when chewing with my dentist at the beginning of 2021. My dentist referred me to TMJ specialist, Dr. Carlos Weisse in Grand Prairie, TX, who took XRays as part of a TMJ treatment consultation. Dr. Weisse palpated different parts of my head and neck during my consultation. Dr. Weisse applied pressure behind my jaw under my ear which caused me to cough. I explained the sensation and he immediately knew that my styloid was elongated. He pulled the Xray up in front of me to investigate further and confirmed that I had elongated styloids. The longest he had personally seen. I proceeded to continue TMJ treatment with him which realigned my bite by moving my bottom jaw forward.

I returned to my local ENT and let him know what Dr. Weisse had found. He sent me to get a CT scan for further review which showed bilateral elongated styloids. Each measured ~6cm. My local ENT confirmed Eagle’s Syndrome and referred me to Dr. Ducic in Fort Worth for treatment/surgery.

In summer 2021, Dr. Ducic said he would consider doing the surgery and that he had done many of the surgeries in the past. Before moving forward, Dr. Ducic requested I complete a relatively extensive checklist of different treatments / medical tests to see if alternative treatments could avoid the risks of surgery.

Over the next 6 months, I had ~20 appointments with a variety of doctors across DFW, many of which were in the same medical group as Dr. Ducic. All of these appointments were fruitless. Some of the medical group’s offices were in complete disrepair as well (exam tables being balanced with magazines under the legs, patients being sent 2 blocks away to use the restroom because one office’s restroom had been out of order for 2 weeks, etc). I heard similar stories of from people who had seen Dr. Ducic and became uneasy with moving forward with surgery with him. I also had extreme difficulties contacting his office which made me even more uneasy.

I decided I would wait until early 2022 when my TMJ treatment was complete before moving forward with another surgeon. I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Chan at UTSW in Dallas for June 2022. She reviewed my CT scan and symptoms and said she would be willing to perform the surgery. We opted to do surgery on my left side as it had been the most symptomatic and surgery was scheduled for a few weeks away.

I had my surgery (external) on 7/5/22 where she removed ~4 cm of bone and ossified ligament. The surgery went great and communication with their office before and after surgery was seamless. I honestly couldn’t be happier about their professionalism, quick responses, and bedside manner. The entire hospital staff was fantastic. I was released a few hours after surgery with a bandage drain. There was some pain in the healing process but it was manageable with the medication prescribed.

Every surgery is different, but I feel she did an amazing job with my surgery. The excision scar was very clean, I have no facial paralysis issues, and a good majority of symptoms seemed to be resolved. (I can now look down and feed my 2-month-old daughter without feeling like I am choking!!!) I had first bite syndrome for a few days following surgery but it seems to have dissipated considerably. We will discuss surgery on the right side in a few months. I wanted the left side to heal completely to get a better understanding of my current symptoms before moving forward with another operation.

For those that haven’t had surgery, relief is possible! It took 3 years for me to find it, but am so happy I found Dr. Chan and her staff.

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Thanks for letting us know about your surgery- really pleased that it’s gone well for you, and that you’ve seen an improvement in symptoms already! I hope that you don’t need surgery on your other side, but good that you have found a capable surgeon to help if you do need it!
Make sure you don’t overdo yourself while you recover, not easy with a baby to care for as well though!

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Thank you for the great report. It’s good that you’re doing so well this soon after surgery! As Jules said, please take it easy. You’re still in the early stages of recovery, & it can take very little to stir up pain or symptoms that last a few days & feel like a setback. Listen to your body & rest when it asks (if you can with a baby in the house.) :yum:

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Thank you Jules!

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