New procedure helps patients dealing with pathologic fractures

Author: Amy Oshier
Published: Updated:

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 already 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. She said she wished she could die because the pain was so bad,” said Dr. Daniel Lerman, an orthopedic oncologist at Presbyterian, Saint Luke’s.

Lerman is part of a team that developed a minimally-invasive pelvic stabilization procedure to ease this pain.

People with pathologic pelvic or sacrum fractures can face a lifetime of pain.

“The sacrum is really the keystone of the pelvis, so if there’s a sacral fracture, anytime somebody moves, they have significant pain,” Lerman said.

A new procedure could help patients dealing with pathologic fractures. (CREDIT: Ivanhoe)

CT scans pinpoint the eroded bone.

Through 1-centimeter incisions, surgeons use bone cement and large screws to reinforce the area.

“Think of them about the size of a stainless-steel ballpoint pen,” Lerman said.

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.

Another benefit of this minimally-invasive procedure is that patients can stay on their chemotherapies, radiation and their immune therapies throughout the procedure, which is vital to keeping the patient cancer-free while also helping them be pain-free at the same time.

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