Dr. Shen from Nathan Littauer Hospital announced today that he is offering Balloon Kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive treatment option for patients suffering from spinal fractures due to osteoporosis. Balloon Kyphoplasty is designed to treat the spinal pain and deformity associated with vertebrae fractures that occur from osteoporosis or cancer. The new technique significantly reduces back pain and improves a patient’s ability to return to daily activities. His first two Kyphoplasty surgeries at Nathan Littauer were deemed a success. “Both my patients are reporting a substantial improvement in their pain” said Dr. Shen.
“The surgery is new to the Fulton-Montgomery county areas and only a handful of surgeons in the Capital Region currently perform kyphoplasty.” said Hospital spokesperson Cheryl McGrattan. One factor contributing to spinal pain is Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones of the spine to weaken and often collapse, resulting in spinal fractures. Traditional treatment for spinal fractures includes bed rest, medication and back bracing. While these therapies may help to decrease a patient’s pain over time, they do not treat the deformity related to the osteoporotic fractures.
Balloon Kyphoplasty is designed to repair vertebral compression fractures and restore the vertebrae to the correct position, reducing back pain, reducing the number of days in bed, significantly improving mobility and increasing overall quality of life. The procedure generally takes less than one hour per fracture and has been performed under both local and general anesthesia. In most cases, Medicare provides coverage for Balloon Kyphoplasty. Other insurance companies may also provide coverage.
Dr. Shen says, “I am pleased to bring this surgery to our region.” He added, “Of all the surgeries I perform, this technique is especially rewarding because it can reduce pain significantly and in a short period of time. The surgeon concluded, “I enjoying seeing the patient return to a better quality of life after this procedure.”
Osteoporosis-Related Spinal Fractures: More Frequent Than Hip Fractures
In the U.S., according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, each year 700,000 patients suffer from spinal fractures due to osteoporosis. Unfortunately, over 400,000 of these fractures go undiagnosed and untreated due in part to lack of awareness about osteoporosis and available treatment options.
The consequences of untreated fractures can be devastating. Once a patient suffers one vertebral compression fracture, the risk of suffering a second fracture increases five-fold. Left unattended, many fractures can result in an exaggerated rounded curvature of the spine, called kyphosis or dowager’s hump. This condition is painful and debilitating — making walking, eating, sleeping, and even breathing painful and difficult. Long-term, this condition could be fatal. Diagnosing such fractures is the first step toward providing patients who have been impacted by this devastating disease state with hope for treatment.
The statistics are staggering — one in two women and one in four men age 50 and older in the United States will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime, with bone loss potentially beginning in women as early as age 25. This figure is projected to double in the next 50 years due to the increase in aging population and lifestyle factors, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. The current incidence rate has caused the World Health Organization to cite osteoporosis as second only to cardiovascular disease as a leading international healthcare problem. For more information about osteoporosis and spinal fractures, please visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation web site at www.nof.org.
Although the complication rate with Balloon Kyphoplasty has been demonstrated to be low, as with most surgical procedures, there are risks associated with Balloon Kyphoplasty, including serious complications. Patients should consult with their doctor for a full discussion of the risks.
For a consultation concerning treatment options for a spinal fracture, please contact Dr. Shen at the New Johnstown Surgery Center at 773-4242.
Public Forum Offered:
For people who are interested in learning more about Dr. Shen and his surgical solutions, Nathan Littauer is offering a FREE seminar: “Reducing Spine Pain” October 18, 2011 at 6:30pm at The Johnstown Holiday Inn. “It is an evening with Dr. Shen and a rare opportunity to hear first-hand the myriad of solutions this phenomenal surgeon brings to our region” said Hospital Spokesperson Cheryl McGrattan. Patients will learn about break-through surgeries and be given the opportunity to ask questions. A dessert buffet will be provided.