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

Littauer earns Nuclear Medicine ACR Accreditation

Littauer earns Nuclear Medicine ACR Accreditation

Littauer earns Nuclear Medicine ACR Accreditation

Nathan Littauer Hospital has been awarded a three-year term of accreditation in nuclear medicine as the result of a recent review by the American College of Radiology (ACR). Nuclear medicine is a branch of medical imaging that uses small amounts of radioactive material, ingested by the patient, to diagnose and treat a variety of disease, including many types of cancers, heart disease, and certain other abnormalities within the body.

The ACR gold seal of accreditation represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety. It is awarded only to facilities meeting ACR Practice Guidelines and Technical Standards after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field. Image quality, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures, and quality assurance programs are assessed. The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report they can use for continuous practice improvement.

nuc med

The ACR is a national professional organization serving more than 36,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.


In addition to nuclear medicine, Littauer is also ACR accredited in mammography, MRI, CT and ultrasound.



Nathan Littauer Hospital and Family of Health Services serves Fulton, Montgomery, and Hamilton counties in upstate New York with a full-service, 74-bed acute care hospital, nine primary care centers, a nursing home and a community education center. The hospital was founded in 1894, has 1,000 employees and regularly hosts ground-breaking spine surgeries. Nathan Littauer continues to offer the latest in diagnostic imaging, including a new MRI suite. For more information, please visit www.nlh.org.


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

New Balloon Kyphoplasty Procedure Dr. Shen Performs at Nathan Littauer Provides Significant Improvement in Quality of Life to Patients Suffering from Spinal Pain

Dr. Shen is pictured as he performs one of the area's first Kyphoplastys

Dr. Shen is pictured as he performs one of the area’s first Kyphoplastys

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.

This picture was taken minutes before he performed the new surgery.

Dr. Shen preps for the surgery

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.

The surgical team at Littauer gets ready for the procedure

The surgical team at Littauer gets ready for the procedure

For consultation:

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.