HealthONE - November 24, 2020

“Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” If you have ever experienced a fall or other trauma that leads to extreme pain, swelling, excessive bruising and loss of function, you know the sinking feeling that hits you as you realize your bone is probably broken. Your mind races ahead to plan for six or more weeks of restricted activity and you brace yourself for the pain, itching and discomfort of a cast.

Now, Swedish Medical Center has a new option for adults with certain types of broken bones (fractures). Using minimally invasive techniques, surgeons place a special implant inside the broken bone. This implant is injected in a liquid form, conforming to the bone. Then, using light therapy, the implant is cured, giving it stability and strength. Often, the bone is healed without the need for a cast and a long period of activity restrictions.

“With this new system, we are essentially healing bones from the inside out, “explains Steve Morgan, MD, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Swedish Medical Center. “The material that we implant allows for individualized treatment—it molds to the patient’s unique anatomy and fracture. This truly personalized treatment provides an unprecedented level of strength and stability.”

The surgery is performed through tiny incisions created near the affected bone. A small, thin tube with a balloon on the end (balloon catheter) is threaded through an incision and into the bone. There, the balloon is inflated and filled with a pliable substance that molds to the bone. This substance then is hardened with light energy, and the integrity of the bone is restored.

“Many times, this treatment is all the patient needs to restore the bone and get moving,” Dr. Morgan says. “However, if needed, it also works in tandem with additional fixation systems such as screws, rods and plates.”

Adult patients with fractures of the arm, finger, collarbone, pelvis, lower leg, foot and toe may be candidates for this implant. The system may be especially beneficial for patients who are older than age 60. Dr. Morgan explains, “A broken bone in a senior adult can be catastrophic—one study showed that broken bones increase the risk of death for 10 years in patients older than 50.”

This new treatment complements Swedish’s dedication to aggressive treatment and observation of mature fracture patients. Called M60, the Mature Fracture Program at Swedish Medical Center provides specialized care for patients 60 and older who present with a fracture. The program offers advanced pain management, immediate specialized medical management of other medical conditions necessary for safe surgery, treatment by highly trained orthopedic trauma specialists as well as immediate mobility and no restrictions following surgery. “Providing intentional, comprehensive care for mature fracture patients leads to better outcomes and a longer, healthier, more active life,” Dr. Morgan says. “By using state-of-the-art technology – such as the new malleable bone implant system— we are helping mature adults live longer, happier, healthier lives.”

Steve Morgan, MD is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic trauma surgeon. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder and his medical degree from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Dr. Morgan completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Additional fellowship training in orthopedic traumatology was completed at the Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Morgan is primarily interested in the orthopedic care of the multiply injured patient. He specializes in fractures of the acetabulum, pelvis, and in periarticular fractures of the upper and lower extremities. He has a special interest in minimally invasive fracture fixation, utilizing techniques to minimize trauma to the surrounding soft tissue envelope in the course of fracture surgery. His practice also entails the evaluation and management of complications related to fracture care including nonunions, malunions, and infection. In addition to trauma care Dr Morgan maintains an elective practice in total joint replacement of the hip. He utilizes an anterior approach that minimizes trauma to the muscles and allows the patient full unrestricted function immediately following surgery. Dr. Morgan is also a physician for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys at the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, Mountain States Circuit Finals and Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in Colorado Springs. Learn more about orthopedic care at Swedish Medical Center.