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New Hope for Patients with Spinal Fractures



Date: April 2, 2008

Contact: Anthony Stahl
Director HR/Marketing
Howard Memorial Hospital

Willits - Dr. Bruce McCormack is offering Balloon Kyphoplasty in Willits one day out of each month. The treatment is a minimally invasive option for patients suffering from spinal fractures due to osteoporosis. Balloon Kyphoplasty is designed to correct spinal deformity due to osteoporotic fractures, significantly reducing back pain and improving a patient’s ability to return to daily activities.

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 the 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.

Dr. McCormack says, “I’m thrilled to be offering our services in the Willits area. We are seeing excellent results.” At this time Dr. McCormack performs the procedure one day a month, working out of the OR room at Howard Memorial Hospital.

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 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.

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 their doctor for a full discussion of the risks.

For more information about osteoporosis and spinal fractures, please visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation web site at