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Published on January 25, 2016

Cementing an End to Lower Back Pain: Palos offers a New Treatment for Sacral Fractures

A minimally invasive procedure to help alleviate the debilitating pain from spinal compression fractures is now being performed at Palos Hospital.

Sacroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure utilizing computed tomography “real time” imaging to help Interventional Radiologists guide a thin needle and inject cement into a patient’s fractured sacrum, the triangular-shaped bone located at the bottom of the spine.

Once injected, the cement hardens within 10 minutes, at which point the fracture is internally casted.

In the past, treatment for this condition was limited to bed rest, physical therapy and pain medication. With this new method, which lasts about one hour and is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, many patients start to feel relief within hours after surgery – some almost immediately, according to Interventional Radiologist Michael Ginsburg, M.D.

Sacral fractures are often common in elderly patients also diagnosed with osteoporosis, much like Dr. George Ferenzi, a retired oncologist with difficulty walking because of pain in his lower back who was referred to Dr. Ginsburg for pain management.

While osteoporosis is the leading cause of sacral insufficiency fractures, additional risk factors include other causes of bone weakening such as prior radiation therapy to the pelvis; high steroid use; rheumatoid arthritis; kidney disease and endocrine abnormalities causing disruption of normal bone metabolism.

“After going over Dr. Ferenzi’s medical history and looking at the findings from a bone scan and MRI, it became clear his sacral insufficiency fracture was getting worse and causing him debilitating pain,” Dr. Ginsburg explains.

Dr. Ferenzi opted to have a sacroplasty at Palos and has no regrets.

“Before surgery, my mobility was restricted and I was in constant pain,” says Dr. Ferenzi. “After surgery, I felt immediate relief and my walking was improved. I would highly recommend this procedure to anyone faced with this condition.”