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Adventist GlenOaks physician pioneers back pain treatment

Media contact: Lisa Parro, senior public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health,

Glendale Heights – An Adventist GlenOaks Hospital physician became the first in the United States to use a new medical device and technique to treat an elderly patient who is now learning to live without debilitating pain.


Interventional radiologist Dr. Francis Facchini pioneered the Blazer Vertebral Augmentation System, treating a 71-year-old man with a vertebral compression fracture that resulted in acute, severe lower back pain. Facchini, who specializes in minimally invasive procedures, treated his patient Aug. 5 at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital.


Vertebral compression fractures affect the small bones that make up the spinal column. When a vertebra fractures, the shape of the bone becomes compressed and distorted, causing pain. The majority of these cases are caused by osteoporosis, which is found primarily in postmenopausal women and men age 70 and older.


Such was the case with Facchini’s patient, Ronald Murdoch, who lives in a Joliet nursing home. Murdoch’s primary care physician, Muhammad Shahzad, knew Murdoch would be a good candidate for the procedure and recommended Facchini because of his reputation. Facchini and his VIR Chicago partners are nationally renowned experts in advanced minimally invasive procedures.


In a vertebral augmentation procedure, sometimes referred to as vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty, a physician uses image guidance to inject a special cement mixture through a hollow needle into the fractured bone. The new Blazer device, manufactured by Santa Clara, Calif.-based Benvenue Medical, Inc., creates a tunnel through which the bone cement is injected, allowing better distribution of the cement than results from other vertebral augmentation techniques. Better distribution means the fracture is more easily stabilized.


Murdoch was discharged from Adventist GlenOaks Hospital a day after his treatment. Prior to undergoing the procedure, he had difficulty walking. He would wake up in the morning and be numb with pain. Now, he is pain free.


“I still anticipate pain when I sit down so I sit down very slowly,” he said. “But the pain’s no longer there. I can get up and use the washroom without any problems.”


The aging Baby Boomer population is expected to result in a rise in osteoporosis and, with it, osteoporosis-related fractures. Studies have shown that osteoporatic fractures cause significant reductions in quality of life. Yet the majority of vertebral compression fractures remain undiagnosed and untreated because back pain and losing height (shrinking) are still seen as normal signs of aging – not symptoms of osteoporosis.


Osteoporosis can be prevented. Facchini and other Adventist Midwest Health physicians support the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s recommendations to optimize bone health and help prevent osteoporosis:

  • Get the daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D;
  • Engage in regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise;
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol;
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about bone health;
  • Have a bone density test and take medication when appropriate.


In addition to compression fractures, Adventist Midwest Health’s interventional radiology team treats a wide variety of disorders that once required surgery, including clogged arteries, varicose veins, and cancers of the lung, liver and kidney. The team performed the first uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) procedure on a human in Illinois 12 years ago at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. This minimally invasive treatment is an alternative to a hysterectomy for women with uterine fibroids, non-cancerous smooth muscle tumors of the uterus.


“Because of our expertise, our interventional radiology team continues to be chosen to debut new devices and techniques, including the Blazer Vertebral Augmentation System,” Facchini said. “Our team continues to set the standard for clinical image-guided surgery. We’re excited to see how devices like this improve patient outcomes and decrease costs.”


Added Brinsley Lewis, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital chief executive officer: “We’re pleased to be able to offer patients the best of both worlds – skilled physicians using the latest technology in a community hospital setting. As our population continues to age, community hospitals like GlenOaks must continue offering innovative procedures that improve the quality of life of our patients.”



Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.  To find a physician, visit