Arthur’s Story

by Annette Pinder

Arthur Smith, former coach of Cornell University’s track and field team, was worried when he suddenly began having pain and weakness in his right leg. A Guinness World Record holder for running 6,000 days in a row, Smith suddenly found himself unable to run, walk, or perform his routine.

Vassilios Dimopoulos, MD, FAANS, a board-certified neurosurgeon at Invision Health, explained to Arthur that his MRI results revealed a large disk herniation that would require surgery. Opting first for a more conservative approach, Arthur tried physical therapy and received an epidural injection to alleviate his pain. This temporarily improved his symptoms, and he was able to coach his team during the Transatlantic series, the century old track and field competition among Cornell, Oxford, and Cambridge universities. However, his symptoms soon returned, and Arthur elected to proceed with surgery.

Dr. Dimopoulos performed a minimally invasive diskectomy to remove the damaged portion of Smith’s herniated disk. Amazingly, just one month later, Smith was able to run on a special treadmill with inflatable chambers. Available at Cornell, the treadmill was designed for training astronauts, and replicates zero gravity conditions found in space to reduce stress on joints. Smith continued to improve daily, and today is back to his active lifestyle. To watch a video about Arthur Smith, visit

“A herniated disk occurs when some of the softer material inside the disk pushes out through a gap in the tougher outside of the disk, which can irritate or press on nearby nerves and cause pain, numbness, or weakness. During a minimally invasive lumbar discectomy, part of the damaged disc is removed to ease pressure on the spinal nerves, requiring only a very small skin incision with minimal effect on bone or muscle,” explains Dr. Dimopoulos.

Dr. Dimopoulos is accustomed to seeing patients who complain of lower back pain, or of burning or aching that radiates down the buttocks and into the legs, and that typically worsens upon standing or walking. He sees patients who complain of numbness, tingling, or cramping in the legs and feet, and those who even experience bowel, bladder, and sexual function problems as a result of their conditions. He says that it is hard for him to meet with patients who have suffered for months or years, never knowing help was available. However, he is thrilled when patients experience so many positive results using technologies that were unavailable years ago.

“When I see my patients enjoying the things that they were deprived of prior to their surgery, it gives me strength to pursue further improvement in how we deliver care. It motivates me to embrace new technology and improve surgical outcomes with minimally invasive techniques,” says Dr. Dimopoulos.

Invision Health, originally known as the Brain & Spine Center, was formed by Michael Landi, MD, FACS, a neurosurgeon who maintained his own neurosurgery practice for over 20 years. Today, it is one of the region’s largest multidisciplinary medical practices with more than 50 health care providers and offices in Buffalo and Florida. Invision Health offers patients the most advanced technology, and a team of highly trained providers specializing in neurosurgery, neurology, interventional and chronic pain management, sports medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, durable medical equipment, medical and aesthetic spa services, psychology, primary care, rheumatology, immunology, urology, OBGYN. Invision’s full-service imaging facility includes 3T MRI, 64-slice CT, 3D mammography, X-ray, DEXA, nuclear medicine, and ultrasound.

Dr. Dimopoulos prides himself on treating patients like family, and does everything possible to alleviate their pain. To learn more and make an appointment, visit and call 716-631-3555.