Minimally invasive spinal surgery is changing lives - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Minimally invasive spinal surgery is changing lives

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Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease that affects million of Americans. It's basically the thinning of your bones. The disease causes about 700,000 spinal fractures here in the United States each year, but there's a simple outpatient procedure that's helping people get back on their feet.

It's a minimally invasive procedure called Balloon Kyphoplasty. In many cases it can be done in less than an hour with two tiny incisions. It is having a life-long impact on a number of patients. 79 year old  Shirley Podach's life was instantly changed by the technology. She'd been living with the pain of osteoporosis for years, "Osteoporosis,that stuff is nasty!"

After it became more and more difficult for Shirley just to sit, she discovered she had two fractures in her lower vertebrae. Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Thomas Andreshak performed what's called Balloon Kyphoplasty, "We take a catheter and insert a balloon that acts like a jack. It reaches the fracture, pushes the bones apart, and we inject bone cement. The glue sets up and creates a cast within the bone, so there is no cast on the outside or a brace."

Dr. Andreshak says relief comes quickly for most patients, "We can treat spinal fractures with two tiny stabs and restore the quality of life instantly. Instantly? In many patients yes, in fact 60%-70% get relief right away and about 90% within two weeks."

Shirley is one of the patients who felt that instant relief,"I went into surgery about 10:20 in the morning, I was out just before 11:30 and at 3 o'clock that afternoon I was in my La-Z-Boy chair at home."

Shirley says there's not much evidence of the doctor's handiwork," I looked at my back to see what he did and I couldn't see anything, so I had my husband look. He found two itty-bitty holes, one on each side of my spine, and that's all there was."

Dr. Andreshak has done thousands of Kyphoplasty surgeries in the last 13 years and he says seeing how it changes people's lives never gets old, "Their quality of life is restored , their independence is restored. They can get up and take care of themselves, they don't have to depend on someone else for a ride or to make dinner. It is very gratifying and wonderful to see them come back!"

Among other things, Shirley is thrilled to once again be able to get out and go on dates with her husband!Dr. Andreshak says the procedure is usually covered by insurance as well as medicare and medicare supplemental plans with minimal out of pocket expense. He says eating well, making sure you have enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet as well as staying active with weight bearing exercise are critical in your 20's, 30's and 40's in an effort to try to avoid osteoporosis in your later years.

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