Your Health: Helping weak bones heal
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Fractures can be painful and debilitating. For most people, the pain only lasts for months, but for some, pathologic fractures leave them with a lifetime of hurt.
Pathologic fractures happen in bones that have already been weakened by disease – usually, cancer that has spread to the bone. Now, a breakthrough procedure is helping to stabilize one of the largest bones in the body and give relief to thousands of people.
“This woman was at home, sneezed, sustained a pelvic fracture, and after that, she was wheelchair-bound and bedbound,” said Dr. Daniel Lerman. “She said she wished she could die because the pain was so bad.”
Lerman is part of a team who developed a minimally invasive pelvic stabilization procedure to ease this type of pain. People who have pathologic pelvic or sacrum fractures can face a lifetime of pain.
“The sacrum is really the keystone of the pelvis,” Lerman said. “So, if there’s a sacral fracture, anytime somebody moves, they have significant pain.”
CT scans pinpoint the eroded bone and through one-centimeter incisions, surgeons use bone cement and large screws to reinforce the area.
They also use a balloon implant in areas where the bone is missing. It’s less invasive, patients wake up feeling better and can leave the hospital the same day.
“When I have a patient who says their pain is so bad that they can’t even enjoy being with their family and then after the procedure, they’re home and they’re engaged in their normal activities,” Lerman said. “I mean, as a physician, there’s no greater thrill.”
Another benefit of this minimally invasive procedure, is that patients are able to stay on their chemotherapies, radiation, and their immune therapies throughout the procedure.
This is vital to keeping the patient cancer-free, while helping them to be pain-free at the same time.
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