Breaking the Mold: Swedish Medical Center Offers New Fracture Treatment
“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, turning the liquid to a solid, giving it stability and strength. The stability afforded often allows the patient to bear weight earlier avoiding prolonged use of crutches or a walker.
“With this new system, we can augment patients poor quality bone to in a way that increases the tolerance to the stress of early mobilization specifically walking, “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 –often within one or two days,” Dr. Morgan says. “However, if needed, it also works in tandem with additional fixation systems such as screws, and plates.”
Adult patients with fractures of the femur, pelvis, arm, lower leg, may be candidates for this implant. The system may be especially beneficial for patients who are older than age 60 and have the unfortunate development of osteoporosis. Dr. Morgan explains, “A broken bone in a mature 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 J. Morgan, MD, FACS, FAAOS is an orthopedic surgeon with OrthoONE. Dr. Morgan graduated from the University of Colorado and received his medical degree from The Kech School of Medicine University of Southern California. Residency training took place at the Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center and was followed by an orthopaedic trauma fellowship at Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte North Carolina. He served for over a decade as a faculty member, Residency Program Director and Professor at Denver Health Medical Center and The University of Colorado, before proceeding to a trauma practice at Swedish Medical Center, Englewood Colorado as the director of orthopaedic trauma. Dr. Morgan has received several research awards, authored numerous scientific articles, book chapters, and edited several books. Dr Morgan lectures regularly at regional, national, and international meetings. Clinical and research interests are focused on acute fracture care, late trauma reconstruction, and total hip Replacement. Dr. Morgan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons and has served in various leadership roles in both organizations. He serves as a physician consultant to the Justin Sports Medicine Program caring for Rodeo Athletes of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He is active in his community providing leadership for youth sports, and personally enjoys cycling and skiing.
Learn more about orthopedic care at Swedish Medical Center.