When Brenda Catanese, 74, of Miami, broke her wrist earlier this year, it brought back memories of two years ago when the retired special education teacher fractured her right femur in a fall and needed surgery with rods and screws to hold together her broken bone.
“I had started going back to the gym again after recovering from my broken leg and went there to play pickleball one day back in February,” Ms. Catanese recalls. “Once I got to the gym, I tripped on something and used my hands to brace my fall. My wrist hurt a lot but I just sucked it up and went home.
Her wrist pain continued to worsen, however, so she drove to Baptist Health Urgent Care for an x-ray. The doctor told her she had a fracture – “a pretty bad one” – and referred her to Roy Cardoso, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care who specializes in hand and upper extremity.
Roy Cardoso, M.D.,
an orthopedic surgeon with
Baptist Health Orthopedic Care
“For many years, surgical repair of fractures such as these involved holding bones together with metal plates and screws,” Dr. Cardoso says. “This approach has some drawbacks, however, as larger incisions are required to place the plates and screws, which leads to more scar tissue. Moreover, irritation from those plates and screws can sometimes affect nerves and tendons. Sometimes, too, a hard cast is required, which prolongs recovery – especially for older women whose bones tend to be more brittle over time.”
After evaluating Ms. Catanese, Dr. Cardoso recommended an innovative procedure that has been used in Europe for many years and recently became available in the U.S.
“The IlluminOss®procedure involves inserting a flexible plastic tube in the bone through a very small incision and inflating it with an inert liquid that hardens once we expose it to blue light,” Dr. Cardoso explains. “This stabilizes the bone without having to use metal plates and screws.”
The surgery itself takes just 45 minutes and is performed under regional anesthesia to the site. “Illuminoss is much less traumatic for patients,” says Dr. Cardoso. “There is no large, open wound, meaning less chance of damage to soft tissue, and patients can write, type or even pick up a cup of coffee immediately after surgery.”
Instead of wearing a hard cast for six to eight weeks, patients wear a splint for a few days and then that is replaced with a removable brace, offering much greater comfort and convenience. It also allows patients to start therapy right away, rather than waiting a couple of months for their fracture to heal, Dr. Cardoso says.
When Dr. Cardoso explained the benefits of the Illuminoss procedure to Ms. Catanese, she was eager to do it. “Usually, once I tell patients about it, they’re all for it,” he says. “It’s quicker recovery than traditional surgery.”
Dr. Cardoso says he usually does the Illuminoss procedure on patients age 50 and above. “People with osteoporosis or who have an insufficiency fracture from calcium deficiency-caused bone weakness are good candidates for this,” he says, adding that women of menopausal age are more at risk for these types of fractures. He also employs Illuminoss when treating bone cancer patients, who often require surgery on their diseased and weakened bones.
Her wrist fully recovered now, Ms. Catanese is back to all of her normal daily activities, including going to the gym and playing mahjong with her friends. She says everything about the procedure was perfect – before, during and after. “Nothing to complain about. I’m feeling so much better. I didn’t even need any painkillers after the surgery.”
Ms. Catanese calls Dr. Cardoso an “angel,” saying he is “very personable and caring” and explains everything thoroughly. “I would definitely recommend him,” she says. “He, his staff and his colleagues at Baptist Health Orthopedic Care are excellent. I was shocked how nice everyone is there – even the valet who parked my car.”