Advanced Procedure & World-Class Care Provide Back Pain Relief to Patients


Vol. 19, No. 1
Winter/Spring 2009

  • The Most Precious Gift of All

  • Winthrop Names John F. Collins President and CEO

  • Relief for Parkinson’s & Other Movement Disorders

  • Winthrop’s Bariatric Surgery Center: Helping Patients Win in the Battle to Lose

  • Winthrop Earns Prestigious Research Accreditation

  • Clinical Trials

  • Advanced Procedure & World-Class Care Provide Back Pain Relief to Patients

  • Yuletide Ball Raises Close to $90,000 in Support of Pediatric Services

  • Winthrop’s International Adoption Program: Connecting Loving Hearts and Healthy Children around the Globe

  • NY Islanders Score Big with Young Patients at Winthrop

  • The Guardian Society – Watching Over Your Future and Winthrop’s

  • Senator Fuschillo “Extends the Holidays” With Loads of Toys for Young Patients at Winthrop

  • Mineola Lions Club Shows Continued Support for Diabetes Education Center

  • Long Island Quilters Society Works of Art on Display at Cancer Center for Kids

    Back to Publications

  • Antonio Abbatiello of Westbury isn’t the average 88-year-old. A man of many talents, Mr. Abbatiello stays active by attending to his garden, taking long daily walks with his wife, and keeping up with household chores like cleaning the gutters.

    But recently, Mr. Abbatiello began to experience severe back pain. Unsure of the cause, he knew a medical evaluation was long overdue when everyday activities such as driving and sleeping through the night had become arduous.

    At the recommendation of his primary care physician, Philip Stein, MD, Mr. Abbatiello was referred to Orlando Ortiz, MD, MBA, FACR, Chairman of the Department of Radiology at Winthrop- University Hospital.

    Dr. Ortiz is a Board-certified interventional neuroradiologist and world renowned expert in vertebral augmentation – treatment for pain caused by fractured bones of the spine (vertebrae) and bone compression – which are often the result of osteoporosis. In fact, Dr. Ortiz recently published an in-depth article on this subject in the popular medical journal Applied Radiology.

    “Winthrop-University Hospital is among the largest and most advanced centers in the world for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures,” said Dr. Ortiz.

    Dr. Ortiz and family nurse practitioner Barbara Crocitto, along with the dedicated corps of nurses, anesthesiologists, and skilled recovery team at Winthrop, are committed to providing the highest level of care so patients obtain fast and effective relief from their pain and can get back to enjoying life. A professional team effort that supports both the patient and the family are basic tenets in their approach to providing world-class care.

    “We are committed to providing patients and their loved ones with the expert care and attentiveness they need and deserve,” said Ms. Crocitto. “Patients come from other states, even all over the world, to be treated at Winthrop.” 7-1

    Mr. Abbatiello’s son Frank, who accompanied his father to his appointment, greatly appreciated the devoted attention of the Winthrop staff.

    “We were so impressed at how thorough and patient Dr. Ortiz was. He really took the time to explain everything and to answer all of our questions,” said Frank Abbatiello. “My father said he never met a doctor like that!”

    Upon a thorough evaluation which includes a physical examination, review of the patient’s imaging studies, and considers the recommendations of a referring physician, two vertebral augmentation procedures – vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty – are often presented as options for relief.

    “Both procedures utilize image guidance technology and are minimally invasive – with just a small incision made in the patient’s back to provide access to the vertebral area,” said Dr. Ortiz.

    Vertebroplasty – primarily used to stabilize broken vertebrae that have weakened over time – utilizes a fine needle to inject medical-grade acrylic cement into collapsed bone. The cement fills the gaps created by the fracture as well as other areas of the vertebrae made porous by osteoporosis.

    Kyphoplasty provides relief to patients with debilitating pain due to a spinal bone fracture. This procedure utilizes a medical balloon device which is temporarily inflated within the fractured bone to create a pocket where cement is injected using a fine needle. The cement hardens quickly, forming an internal cast within the vertebral body, strengthening the area and providing relief from pain.

    “Most patients are treated under conscious sedation, so recovery time is relatively short,” said Dr. Ortiz. “The procedures are done on an outpatient basis and patients usually go home within a few hours. Many resume regular activities within 48 hours.”

    Mr. Abbatiello underwent the kyphoplasty procedure at Winthrop on October 23, 2008 and within hours felt a marked improvement from the pain.

    In fact, he felt so good after the procedure on Thursday that he was back in church that Sunday. What’s more, he said farewell to sleepless nights.

    “Prior to the surgery, my father had not had a full night sleep in over three months,” said Frank Abbatiello. “But that all changed the day he got home from the procedure – he slept like a baby! And that’s when I knew that this really helped him.”

    In addition to vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty to treat the fracture, it is important for patients to follow a course of treatment to address the primary cause of the problem. If a bone density test was not previously administered, patients are advised to have one.

    “If the results of the bone density test confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis, we follow up with the patient to ensure they receive the proper treatment and management, as they are at risk for other fractures,” said Ms. Crocitto.

    A bone density test performed after the kyphoplasty procedure confirmed that Mr. Abbatiello has osteoporosis. Yet, thanks to the thorough follow-up care he received at Winthrop, he was educated on the importance of incorporating vitamin D and calcium into his daily regimen as well as safe movement guidelines to help prevent further injury.

    “The care that I received from everyone at Winthrop – especially from Barbara – was excellent,” said Antonio Abbatiello. “I am so grateful that next year, I plan to bring Dr. Ortiz some of the nice ripe tomatoes from my garden to show my appreciation!”

    Select patients also receive a referral for physical therapy, which typically consists of two to three weekly sessions for one to two months. Patients are subsequently seen for a three month and one year follow up to ensure the continuum of care.

    Seventy-eight-year-old Cynthia Shevitz of East Meadow was being treated for a serious medical condition when she began to suffer with secondary symptoms including severe back pain.

    “I was in a lot of pain – I was bent over and had to wear a brace just to get some relief,” said Mrs. Shevitz. “But then I found out about Dr. Ortiz and the advanced therapies that were available to me at Winthrop.”

    Dr. Ortiz was able to treat Mrs. Shevitz’s back pain and improve her quality of life with a unique dual procedure which involved coblation therapy – an advanced image-guided procedure that employs radiofrequency energy to break up a spinal tumor which can cause a compression fracture – and kyphoplasty to stabilize the fracture.

    Within weeks of undergoing treatment, Mrs. Shevitz experienced tremendous relief from the pain and today, is grateful for the cutting-edge care she received at Winthrop. “The procedure helped me tremendously. I don’t know what I would’ve done without it,” said Mrs. Shevitz. “Today, I’m free of pain, I no longer need a brace, and my back is straight. I feel so fortunate!”

    For more information on the advanced procedures available at Winthrop, please call 1-866-WINTHROP.



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