Head detached from spine in pioneering operation

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The Independent Online
A woman has undergone a world-first operation in which her head was temporarily detached from her spine.

The operation was carried out on 36-year-old Bridget Fudgell from Bristol, whose fused-bone neck condition meant her head was fixed permanently looking downwards. She had been told the condition could never be corrected. But in a 17-hour operation in February, Steve Gill, a neurosurgeon, cut into the back of her neck to expose the vertebrae at the top of her spine. A "wedge" was cut in the base of the skull and in the top vertebra. Her head was detached, though it was still connected to the spinal column, blood vessels and tissues. The skull was then fixed in place with a metal plate and two screws. Last night Ms Fudgell, a former secretary, said: "I have no regrets, although it was a pioneering operation and I had to think about it a great deal before agreeing."