Measom performs SW Wyoming's first spine jack procedure

Evanston Regional Hospital (HERALD PHOTO)

Wanda Kaynor was in a significant amount of pain after sustaining severe injuries at the hands of a buck on Thursday, Oct. 6. At the time, she said, “I didn’t think I was going to make it.” Kaynor attempted a few remedies before visiting Dr. Jake Measom at Evanston Regional Hospital (ERH.)


After preliminary scans and examinations, Measom decided to repair Kaynor’s L1 vertebra with bone jacks. This relatively new procedure, which had reportedly never been performed in southwest Wyoming, is a modernization of the kyphoplasty, or injection of cement into a vertebra.


Measom explained the procedure. “Kyphoplasty is a treatment for vertebral compression fractures, or when you break one of the vertebrae in your spine.” These fractures are quite common, according to Measom. “There’s over 1.5 million compression fractures each year in the US,” he said. “One in four post-menopausal women will have at least one compression fracture in their life.”


The operation uses cement to repair fractured bone and prevent further damage and treat pain associated with the fracture. “Since that was first developed, there have been a number of new technologies.” Kaynor’s treatment was slightly more sophisticated.


“The spine jack is a very specialized type of vertebral augmentation device,” said Measom. “What the procedure entails is using a small, hollow needle to access the inside of the vertebral body from the back, and through that needle injecting a collapsed jack.” The small titanium device resembles a car jack and, when positioned properly, restores height to the crushed vertebra. A jack is placed on either side before cemented is added in both injection sites. “Once that jack is positioned, we fill the vertebral body with a special kind of cement and solidify everything.”


Measom said that the recovery process for a spine jack is quite simple. “The procedure is very minimally invasive. The only two entry sites are about half-centimeter incisions along either side of the spine.” The cement takes about 30 minutes to harden. Afterwards, there may be muscle soreness and spasms, and healing can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. “We might treat that with muscle relaxants, ice and rest, but it’s very quick.” Overall, the procedure took approximately 45 minutes.


In Kaynor’s case, Measom said that kyphoplasty and spine jack procedures were the only two options, and he believes the latter was ideal given the circumstances. “While the kyphoplasty certainly would have been helpful in terms of stabilizing the fracture and treating pain,” he said, “I don’t think it would have been as effective in terms of restoring height and restoring function in the same way that the spine jack did.”


“As soon as the anesthesia wore off and I went to stand up,” said Kaynor, “I almost wanted to cry. I had no more of that nerve pain going down my leg and across my back. It was just gone.” Kaynor said that, if she had not received the procedure, she would not be remotely near her level of recovery. “I would have been bothered with it all my life.” She added that she had moved to and from a wheelchair before the procedure with the assistance of a walker, but can now walk unassisted. “It’s amazing how quickly I stopped feeling that pain.” She had spent the weeks before the procedure in an assisted living facility, but immediately went home after her bone jack, and was on foot within hours.


Kaynor is still in physical therapy, but that is just for lingering muscle pain. “I am so much better than I was. I didn’t really think when I went into the care facilities that I would ever be able to do what I had been able to do before. Now I know I can.”


Measom said that the awareness of procedures like kyphoplasty and spine jacks is important. “Compression fractures are quite common, and having people know that if they’re dealing with this kind of injury, there are solutions available. There’s no need to suffer in pain and just deal with it.”


He added that a lack of surgical intervention can cause permanent damage. “If you don’t restore the height, you can have permanent height loss and spine deformity because of it.” This can have effects on height, posture and other elements of health. “That’s why it’s important that you treat these things, and that you do so in a timely fashion.”


Kaynor is satisfied with the outcome of her procedure, and is grateful that Measom was able to intervene. “I would recommend him to anyone,” she said. “If I could give him 10 stars, I would.” Kaynor encourages those in pain to seek second opinions, and always seek intervention, preferably by Dr. Measom. “I didn’t think I’d have a quality of life after the attack… I look forward to walking my dogs again.”


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