Orthopedic spine surgeon, Joseph Popper, MD, welcomed at Littauer

Orthopedic spine surgeon, Joseph Popper, MD, welcomed at Littauer

Nathan Littauer Hospital & Nursing Home proudly announces the addition of Dr. Joseph E. Popper, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon as one of their latest privileged providers. Dr. Popper is joining doctors: Shen, Cecil, and Ortiz at Mohawk Valley Orthopedics.

“We are pleased to have Dr. Popper join Littauer,” said Littauer CEO and President, Laurence E. Kelly. “His expertise will improve the quality of life for so many of our patients.”

Dr. Popper is an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon specializing in the comprehensive treatment of the neck, back, and spine. He has completed a combined Neurosurgical and Orthopedic Spine Surgery Fellowship at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. He is a specialist in cervical spine surgery and minimally-invasive lumbar procedures.

“I have been here and I have been highly impressed with the quality of care model Nathan Littauer provides,” said Dr. Popper.

You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Popper at Littauer by calling the Mohawk Valley Orthopedics PC, located at 135 S. Kingsboro Ave., Johnstown or call (518) 773-4242.

Dr. Joseph Popper

Dr. Joseph Popper

2013 Annual Report Video

You may have seen our 2013 Report to the Community distributed in local papers, watch here to see the video! If you did not receive a copy and would like one please email us at info@nlh.org and we’ll mail one to you.

Cutting-edge surgery tech aids patients

Dr. Shen regularly performs ground breaking surgery at our surgical center.

Cutting-edge surgery tech aids patients

September 21, 2013
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE – Nathan Littauer Hospital announced Friday it is performing robotics-assisted spinal surgeries thanks to new equipment and the talents of a surgeon, Dr. Jian Shen.

At a news conference Friday, Laurence E. Kelly, president and CEO of Nathan Littauer Hospital, said multiple  robot-assisted spinal surgeries have been performed at the hospital since the first one was done in?July.

One patient, Sarah White, 27, of Saratoga County had surgery Aug. 6 to repair damage to her spine from a June 2012 car accident.

Article Photos

Dr. Jian Shen, an orthopedic surgeon, looks on as spine surgery patient and Saratoga County resident Sarah White speaks about her surgery during a news conference Friday at Nathan?Littauer Hospital in Gloversville. The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

White suffered two fractures in her spine, near the lower back. White said prior to the surgery, she went through physical therapy, which worked for a time. She was forced to take painkillers to manage the pain until a doctor suggested she speak with Shen about possibly having surgery.

Since the operation, White has gone back to work and is living a healthy life.

“It is amazing. I can do a lot more than I could six weeks ago, and I’m back to work [since Monday,]” White said. “I can get through the workday with no problems. I’m going for walks again, I’m going to start exercising again; it’s [had] a big effect.”

Shen, an orthopedic surgeon at both Nathan Littauer and St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam, was happy to see the program be instituted at Nathan Littauer.

“This is very exciting technology,” Shen said.

The Renaissance robotic spine surgery guidance system, which was acquired by both hospitals recently, allows for precise and minimally invasive surgery.

Before entering the operating room, surgeons can use Renaissance to actually pre-plan the most optimal surgery on a 3D simulation of the patient’s spine.

During surgery, the system guides the surgeon’s hands and tools to the precise, pre-planned locations along the spine.

Potential benefits for patients include reduced blood loss, fewer complications, fewer revisions, faster recovery, reduced procedure time and reduced exposure to radiation.

With less tissue damage done during the operation, it allows for quicker recovery time than surgery by hand.

So far, Shen said, there have been no infections from this program.

“So far, we have [had] success after success,” Shen said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens said in a statement this program could bring investment to the local community.

“For well over a century, residents of Fulton County have relied upon Nathan Littauer for patient-centric care, and today’s announcement clearly demonstrates that focus leading into the future,” Owens said in the statement Friday.


Hospital has his back

First printed in the Albany Times Union

October 19, 2013

Dr. Jian Shen has a vision.

He has chosen Fulton and Montgomery counties to make it a reality.

“Even though it’s a small area, I feel I can really do something big,” Shen said.

Although the 42-year-old former molecular biologist has been a surgeon for less than three years, he is building a reputation for cutting-edge minimally invasive operations at Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville and St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam. He has performed several surgical “firsts” in the region, including the first robotic-assisted spine surgery, at Nathan Littauer, this summer.

And that’s the beginning. Shen’s goal is to create a “minimally invasive spine surgery destination” here, he said. He envisions patients from around the nation traveling to the region for the highest level of surgical care.

Sound far-fetched? Maybe. Medical “destinations” are typically large, long-established institutions with national reputations, like Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic, said Alwyn Cassil of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Studying Health System Change.

But it’s also tough to discount Shen. In two and a half years, he has brought patients in from New York City, Florida, Texas and Tennessee. He is among fewer than 100 surgeons in the nation, he said, who do endoscopic surgery of the spine — correcting problems with tiny incisions and a camera that projects the body’s interior onto a screen.

After 1,300 minimally invasive spine surgeries, Shen said his patients have had no resulting serious complications, such as infections or spinal cord injuries.

“We did not make anybody worse,” Shen said. “We made lots of people better. We made lots of people pain-free.”

About 15 percent of people who come to Shen’s practice, Mohawk Valley Orthopedics, for back pain end up having surgery, Shen said. One of his best-known local patients is Alan Chartock, president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

After a year of incessant, debilitating back pain, Chartock traveled to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, but left unconvinced about having a procedure there. He’d had Shen as a guest on WAMC’s call-in program, Vox Pop. Chartock says he liked the doctor because he spoke to him as an equal. Shen had also performed a successful surgery on Chartock’s friend. So Chartock decided to have his back surgery performed at Nathan Littauer.

Given a couple of surgical options, Chartock chose the less aggressive one, Shen said. It didn’t help him; soon afterward, Chartock was in pain again. So he returned for a second, more intensive operation.

“When I left, I had no pain, and I have had no pain since that time,” Chartock said. “I’m very grateful to Dr. Shen.”

But he recalled friends’ responses when he said he would have spine surgery in Gloversville.

“Each of them had said, ‘What, are you crazy?”’ Chartock said.

So why did Shen, who lives in Loudonville, choose to work in Fulton and Montgomery counties? His decision was fueled in part by interest in treating patients in an underserved community — and in part as a strategic career move.

“At a major medical center, I would be nobody,” Shen said. “I would say, ‘Get me a robot.’ It would take longer to approve. Here, I get it in a week.”

Nathan Littauer and St. Mary’s hospitals have each invested about $1.75 million in robotic equipment, microscopes and other technology to support Shen’s surgeries, the institutions’ CEOs said.

Nathan Littauer administrators believed the investment was necessary to attract a highly trained specialist to the area, where there was tremendous need for a back surgeon, said hospital President and CEO Laurence E. Kelly. Shen has had patients waiting to see him every week since he arrived.

“We took a big risk, and it’s worked out fine,” Kelly said.

Now the question is whether more spine surgeons can be lured to the region to work with the surgeon.

“I’m looking for partners right now,” Shen said, “because it’s getting so busy, I cannot handle it myself.”

chughes@timesunion.com 518-454-5417 @hughesclaire


Dr. Jian Shen , 42

Born near Beijing

Lives in Loudonville

Married to Wencui Shen, father of 7-year-old Ivyann

Medical degree from Weill Cornell University Medical College

Spine surgery fellowship: University of California at San Francisco

Moved to the Capital Region in 2011



Dr. Jian Shen, 42

Born near Beijing

Lives in Loudonville

Married to Wencui Shen, father of 7-year-old Ivyann

Medical degree from Weill Cornell University Medical College

Spine surgery fellowship: University of California at San Francisco