Kyphoplasty: A Patient’s Perspective

In Kyphoplasty, News, Pain Management, Procedures by VIVA

“When I woke up, I literally jumped from the table. I had no pain.”

Loretta McMenamin initially hurt her back lifting a vacuum. The pain was intense and the treatments she was receiving did not bring much relief. Still in pain, Loretta was prescribed an MRI and, sure enough, a significant problem was found.

Loretta was diagnosed with a vertebral compression fracture (VCF), a broken bone in her spine. She had a condition called osteoporosis which causes the bones in the body to thin, thus becoming weak and brittle. Common daily activities and household chores had become impossible for Loretta to perform without significant pain.

Patients who suffer from osteoporosis are at increased risk of VCFs which affect about 750,000 people in the U.S. each year, including an estimated 25% of postmenopausal women. Aging is a risk factor as well. VCF is estimated to affect 40% of women 80 years and older. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with a VCF than men; however, men are also at risk.

Loretta’s doctor recommended a consultation with interventional radiology. Desperate for relief, Loretta immediately scheduled an appointment at Virginia Interventional and Vascular Associates.

“When I first met with the Interventional Radiologist and they mentioned that there was a procedure that could help. I was hurting so badly that I instantly said, ‘I’ll do it! I’ll do it!’

Her husband asked if she wanted to look into it further before moving forward, but Loretta did not want to wait any longer.

“I couldn’t lie down or sit up—I couldn’t do anything. Dr. John J. McLaughlin was my doctor. When I woke up, I literally jumped from the table. I had no pain. It sounds unbelievable, I know, but that’s the God’s-honest truth.”

Years later, Loretta returned to Dr. McLaughlin for different vertebrae. Her results were the same.

“I got up and I was pain-free,” she said. “I could exercise right away and, quite literally, do anything I wanted to do.”

Loretta looks back on her procedures with gratitude.

“They are so gracious in that practice, so professional and caring. It’s just a very nice environment where you feel like you’re the only patient. Each time I called and shared my problem, they were very accommodating and scheduled me right away. Considering it’s actually very busy with so many patients, that’s saying a lot.”

Loretta’s third injury occurred during a particularly difficult time for the McMenamin family. Loretta’s husband was ill in the hospital, and the family was hoping to be together for the holidays. Dr. R. Donald Doherty, Jr. was Loretta’s physician.

“Dr. Doherty fit me in right away. He gave me my Christmas back, and I’ll always be grateful for that,” Loretta said. In this, her latest procedure, Dr. Doherty actually treated two levels. “He said that the level right below would end up collapsing on itself if left untreated,” Loretta said. “I have not had a problem since, but if I have any more issues, I will not hesitate to go back.”

Life-changing results from Kyphoplasty

Loretta attributes her mobility and quality of life to the kyphoplasty procedures she had at VIVA.

“I know that I would be in a wheelchair by now if this procedure didn’t exist,” Loretta said. “My children could hardly believe my outcomes. Sometimes people are leery of undergoing a procedure like this, and I understand that. I’m going to be 84,” Loretta said. “The thing is, there’s no recovery. It’s instant. I was back to myself again, only pain-free.”

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive spinal procedure with transformative outcomes. The procedure prevents further collapse of damaged vertebrae, as well as long-term relief. Most patients who have had this procedure report alleviation of their symptoms within 48 hours. The outpatient procedure is covered by most health insurance.

The four goals of a kyphoplasty procedure are to:

  1. Strengthen and stabilize the bone
  2. Relieve pain caused by spinal injury
  3. Promote increased mobility
  4. Restore lost vertebral body height

Loretta wishes more people knew about the kyphoplasty procedure.

“It truly is an amazing procedure. It’s not painful at all. The worst part is getting on the table,” Loretta recalled. “But I was given a shot to relax. I was able to lie on my tummy. It’s nothing like a back surgery—it’s just a needle.”

Loretta McMenamin shares her story in the hopes that more people will experience the life-changing results she has enjoyed and live with the freedom of being pain-free.

Physicians at VIVA Play a Key Role in Medical Care

According to Dr. John McLaughlin, the physicians at VIVA are able to play a key role in medical care beyond traditional radiology.

“We don’t just diagnose, we intervene,” Dr. McLaughlin said. “We do a variety of procedures—microsurgeries—using very small devices and image guidance. Most procedures can be done on an outpatient basis, and they are a lot less invasive and a lot more effective than open surgeries.”

Virginia Interventional and Vascular Associates (VIVA) is an outpatient multi-specialty practice fully owned and operated by Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg. At VIVA, our Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Interventional Radiologists and Vascular Surgeons specialize in minimally invasive procedures to promote rapid recovery and rapid results.

For more information on the kyphoplasty procedure or to schedule a consultation call (540) 654-9118.