Surgeons at Allegheny Health Network have become the first in the region to treat metastatic spinal tumors using an innovative, minimally-invasive technology known as the OsteoCool RF Ablation System from Medtronic.

Metastatic bone disease occurs in 60 to 80 percent of cancer patients, most frequently among patients with primary malignancies of the breast, prostate, liver and lung, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Spinal tumors can cause debilitating pain, fracture, mechanical instability and neurological dysfunction – all of which impede upon a patient’s daily activities and can significantly challenge their overall quality of life,” says AHN neurosurgeon Dr. Nestor Tomycz.

Spine metastases have traditionally been treated with radiation therapy or via complex, open-spine surgery in which the cancer cells are resected from the bones. According to Tomycz, radiation can cause damage to the normal tissue surrounding the bone, and traditional surgery is often more than what a patient with cancer can tolerate. Further, both radiation and surgery can interrupt a patient’s treatment for his/her primary cancer such as chemotherapy.

Tomycz is the first neurosurgeon in the region to utilize OsteoCool in the treatment of patients with spine metastases. Using internally-cooled bipolar probes, he delivers heat energy precisely to the tumor through small incisions in the patient’s back. The temperature-controlled system prevents overheating and damage to the surrounding tissue, while creating a “kill zone” within the bone to destroy any cancerous cells.

For patients who commonly suffer a spinal fracture as a result of the spinal tumor, Tomycz uses OsteoCool in combination with a procedure known as kyphoplasty, in which cement is used to stabilize the bone. Both minimally invasive, patients are often able to go home the day after their surgery.

“Never before have we been able to treat the bone cancer and fracture at the same time. Now, with one procedure, patients realize almost immediate pain relief and are able to quickly get back to their treatment plans for overcoming their primary cancer,” Tomycz says.

Nursing career fair at MVH

Registered Nurses and upcoming graduates are invited to attend a free Nursing Career Fair/Open House at Monongahela Valley Hospital in Carroll Township. The event will be held 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. March 22 in the Anthony M. Lombardi Education Conference Center.

“We encourage experienced nurses as well as recent graduates and students to attend,” says Mary Lou Murt, MVH’s senior vice president and chief nursing officer. “MVH is committed to providing the highest quality medical care with compassion. We offer our nurses an opportunity to grow professionally and personally in a challenging and rewarding environment.”

MVH offers nurses competitive salaries, flexible schedules, comprehensive benefits – including free dental and vision for the employee, 100 percent tuition assistance for up to nine credits per year and free onsite parking.

Nurses are encouraged to bring their resumes as representatives from Nursing Administration and nurse managers will be on hand for immediate interviews. Full- and part-time positions are available in many areas throughout the hospital.

MVH is a 200-bed community hospital with 225 physicians on its medical staff representing 40 specialties. It is the largest employer in the Mid-Monongahela Valley with more than 1,300 employees; and, the third largest employer in Washington County. For more information, contact 724-258-1210.

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