Press release by Franciscan Health:

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. – Imo Jeanne Johnson wants to remain independent for as long as she possibly can.

The 80-year-old retired social worker has lived in her Michigan City home for more than 25 years. When she fell and fractured a bone in her back, she worried she may no longer be able to stay there and care for herself.

“I could barely put my shoes on or get dressed,” Johnson said. “I was in a lot of pain, mostly with bending. I couldn’t keep things up around the house.”

Johnson’s primary care physician referred her to board-certified Franciscan Physician Network Orthopedic Surgeon Bryan Boyer, MD. Dr. Boyer told her a procedure now being offered at Franciscan Health Michigan City could provide her with fast relief.

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure used to treat compression fractures in the spine, which occur most often in seniors. Symptoms of compression fractures are pain when moving, changing positions, riding in bumpy cars, coughing or sneezing and not being able to lie flat or roll over in bed.

“Seniors don’t usually get a back strain,” Dr. Boyer said. “It’s not muscle. It’s bone. This isn’t two weeks and it gets better. They are miserable. They can barely make it to the couch or the bathroom.”

During the procedure, the surgeon places needles through the skin about the size of a pencil into the broken bone, then uses a special balloon to make a space into which medical-grade cement is injected. The cement hardens in 15 to 20 minutes.

“Patients say it is almost like a miracle,” Dr. Boyer said. “People ask me, ‘How long before I feel better?’ and I say, ‘However long it takes the anesthesiologist to wake you up.’ In reality, it’s oftentimes almost immediately.”

Johnson said that was precisely her experience.

“I didn’t have any pills after surgery, no pain,” she said. “When I came out of the surgery, I didn’t feel hung over or anything like I did with other surgeries. I felt perfectly fine.”

Dr. Boyer said the surgery can do more than repair a person’s spine.

“Unrelenting pain can lead to depression and lack of hope,” he said. “When we remove the pain, we bring back the hope.”

Johnson said after her procedure, she’s able to maintain her independence in her own home.

“This was the best surgery,” she said. “I’d tell anyone to see Dr. Boyer and see if he can help them. He explained everything so well and took a lot of time to make sure I understood everything. He spent a lot more time talking with me than other doctors.”

For more information and to schedule a consultation, call (219) 861-8161.