Kentucky spine surgeons link rare infection to opioid epidemic: 3 insights

Written by Mackenzie Garrity | December 21, 2018 | Print  |

Spine surgeon Jeffery Gum, MD, of Norton Leatherman Spine Center in Louisville, Ky., is among the surgeons in the state who attributed the cause of a rare spine infection to the increase in heroin use, according to

Here are three insights:

1. Physicians are seeing an influx in patients suffering from Osteomyelitis, which can eat away bone to cause pain and potentially paralysis.

2. In 2012, Norton Leatherman Spine Center saw five patients suffering from the infection. However, in 2016, that number grew to more than 100 patients. The spine surgeons noted many of the patients with the infection were intravenous drug users.

3. Many of the patients with the infection require surgery. Dr. Gum and other spine surgeons are treating patients with opioid-free surgeries to limit exposure, including robotic surgery.

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