‘Like getting my life back’: Steamboat’s SOSI performs lumbar spine surgery as part of FDA study

Dr. Alex Sielatycki, right, of the Steamboat Orthopedic and Spine Institute is joined in the operating room by Kristin Adams, certified surgical technician, in camouflage-colored headgear, and Margo Boatner, physician assistant, during a July 2022 procedure at Steamboat Surgery Center.
Elisa Maines/Courtesy Photo

Craig’s resident Donnie Kendall is not tender when it comes to pain.

Kendall was a mixed martial arts competitor, state champion weightlifter, boxer, and martial arts instructor. He has broken bones and had multiple surgeries, and he makes a living driving huge machinery for the Colowyo mine.

But, for the past two or three years, the progressive pain of a ruptured disc pushing on a nerve in his spine has prevented him from maintaining an active lifestyle and enjoying activities with his grandchildren. .

Doctors recommended Kendall undergo spinal fusion surgery, but he waited due to possible negative side effects. He withstood the pain because he knew a new spine technology was on the horizon.

Then, on October 11, he underwent innovative lumbar spine surgery to receive an artificial joint replacement as part of a US Food and Drug Administration study with Dr. Alex Sielatycki of the Steamboat Orthopedic & Spine Institute. .

“I’m really blown away,” said Kendall, 50. “It’s really amazing that there is now something that can help. It’s honestly like getting my life back.

Kendall was the first of 20 patients scheduled to have the procedure at Steamboat, and SOSI is the only Colorado site out of 15 study sites across the country to participate in implanting the new device, Sielatycki said. A fusion procedures study control group is taking place in Denver.

“MOTUS is the world’s first total joint replacement for the lumbar spine and the only true motion alternative to fusion,” says device developer 3Spine. “This unique approach replaces all three lower back structures in a single medical procedure while restoring freedom of movement.”

Craig resident Donnie Kendall is ‘blown away’ by the positive results so far after his October 11 surgery which implanted a MOTUS total joint replacement in his lumbar spine. Kendall is pictured with three of her five grandchildren.
Donnie Kendall/Courtesy Photo

Although artificial vertebral discs and facet joints also exist separately, MOTUS, which means movement in Latin, combines both the disc and the two facet joints in a single implant.

Sielatycki, who joined the SOSI team in March, is a fellow-trained orthopedic spine surgeon who performed three of the new procedures in October at Steamboat, including a Steamboat man in his 40s and a Craig man in the sixties. Five other patients are already scheduled for surgery, but interested patients can apply to be studied until the end of this year. Most patients suffer from degenerative wear and tear on the spine.

Total joint replacement provides the same benefits as traditional spinal fusion surgeries, but also preserves adjacent vertebral levels, restores natural balance, maintains range of motion, and relieves leg and back pain.

Traditional spinal fusion surgery is not a good solution for many patients, the 37-year-old surgeon said, as 75-80% of patients do not get full relief. Additionally, five years after a fusion procedure, 20-25% of patients may require a new fusion and 40-50% after 10 years.

“This motion-preserving lumbar joint replacement is truly the first of its kind and has the potential to dramatically change the way spine care is provided not just in this country but around the world,” said Sielatycki, who has been involved in pilot surgeries for the device since 2018. “I think we have an answer to the problem of lumbar fusion complications that has been going on for decades and has plagued so many patients.”

The surgeon said that approximately 75-80% of potential fusion patients would be eligible for MOTUS. Fusion surgery would still be needed for very complex deformities, spinal trauma, severe scoliosis, spinal tumors or spinal infections, he said.

Sielatycki said the MOTUS device has been in development for about 15 years and the implant for the study is fourth generation. The surgeon said MOTUS implantation is a difficult lumbar joint reconstruction surgery that takes up to three hours, but patients can go home the same afternoon. Patients walk the next day, but activities are restricted for three months.

“It’s harder for the surgeon because it’s a total shift in how we think about the lumbar spine,” Sielatycki said. “There are a lot of variables that surgeons have to think about and we don’t have to think about fusion surgery.”

Orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Alex Sielatycki, who practices at the Steamboat Orthopedics and Spine Institute, is recruiting 20 area patients to participate in a surgical trial for FDA approval of a joint implant vertebral.
Elisa Maines/Courtesy Photo

The nationwide study is expected to be completed in early 2023, and since the FDA needs two years of results, device approval is expected in 2025.

“Based on biomechanical tests with simulated wear, the device still holds up. So, in theory, it should last a lifetime once implanted,” says Sielatycki. “All the data at this point is excellent.”

Kendall is still healing, but he is free from constant pain and is walking a mile a day two weeks after surgery. He looks forward to spending more active time outdoors with his five grandchildren, who range in age from 4 to 8 years old.

“The first thing I want to do is get my grandkids back,” Kendall said.


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