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North Hills Monthly

UPMC Passavant Spine Center to Provide Medical and Surgical Interventions Under One Roof

Jun 30, 2015 09:44PM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

The UPMC Passavant Spine Center will offer everything patients require at an easily accessible site designed specifically with their needs in mind.

Chronic back pain can make it difficult to get through the day. While there are many reasons why a person may suffer from this disorder, including disk disease, injury, fracture, spinal tumors, infection, and others, there also are a number of treatments that can help alleviate the condition to allow those with prolonged back pain to return to a normal life.

Fortunately, these treatments, as well as diagnostic testing, a multidisciplinary team of specialists, and support services including physical rehabilitation and pain management, are now under one roof. The UPMC Passavant Spine Center, which will begin seeing patients this August, has been designed to provide patients suffering from back and neck pain (with or without arm and leg pain), as well as musculoskeletal problems, with a comfortable, convenient option for high-quality care.

“Patients will really benefit from having this level of spine care in their own backyard,” says UPMC Passavant President Dave Martin of the new facility which is located on Rt. 19 in Wexford. “Because it’s situated on a main artery in the North Hills, it’s easily accessible, whether patients are coming from Cranberry, McCandless, Zelienople, Pittsburgh, or even farther away.

“Instead of having to travel to see different specialists, they can find everything they need at this ‘one-stop shop,’ including a multidisciplinary team of medical experts, state-of-the-art technology, and both surgical and non-surgical interventions,” he adds.

Expanding to Meet Patients’ Needs
While the spinal program at UPMC Passavant is not new, growing demand has resulted in the need for more space to treat an increasing number of patients. “When I first began working at UPMC Passavant in 2002, about 150 to 200 very benign cases were performed a year; we didn’t even have a microscope exclusively for spine surgery,” explains Matt El-Kadi, MD, Ph.D., FACS, chief of neurosurgery and director of the UPMC Passavant Spine Center. “We built the spine program from scratch at UPMC Passavant on a case-by-case basis, and are now offering services from minimally invasive procedures to the most complex spine surgeries that our patients require.

“There is nothing that patients need to have done that can’t be done here,” he adds. “In fact, very few hospitals in the country have the kind of comprehensive program and advanced technology that we have at UPMC Passavant.”

The Spine Center, managed as part of UPMC Passavant, will offer everything that patients require at an easily accessible site designed specifically with their needs in mind. The registration area, for example, is set up with kiosks so that patients can enter their information quickly, without having to wait or stand at a window while someone checks them in. Parking is free and close to the building, so patients don’t have to walk long distances to see their doctors. UPMC Centers for Rehab Services is located on the first floor, so patients who need rehab to treat their conditions or recover after surgery don’t have to go anywhere else.

There also is an imaging department on-site so that required diagnostic tests can be performed on the same day as the patient’s appointment. “This is especially important for those patients who come from further away and don’t have the x-rays or MRIs that we need; before, it was a wasted trip for them, because there was nothing we could do until we had those tests,” says Dr. El-Kadi. “Now, instead of having to travel somewhere else for testing, they can have it done here on the same day, at the same time as their appointment.”

Patients also can be seen by pain management specialists on-site, as well as physical therapists and physical medicine and rehab providers. “This can save someone from having to take another day off from work, or from having to call around to this office or that office to get the appointments they need,” says Dr. El-Kadi. “By having their testing in the same office visit, it also helps prevent duplication of services.”

Patients at the UPMC Passavant Spine Center also have access to a multidisciplinary team who work with each other to design the most comprehensive plan of treatment. Specialists include neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, physical medicine physicians, internists, physical and occupational therapists, neurosurgically trained nurses and pain management specialists. “This saves time and creates a seamless flow for the patient,” says Dr. El-Kadi. “We want to make it easy for them to get the care that they deserve.”

Medical and Surgical Interventions
While some patients with back pain do require surgery, many can be treated through the conservative interventions offered at the UPMC Passavant Spine Center. “Most patients with musculoskeletal disorders do not require surgery—only about 10 percent or less of back patients require surgical intervention,” says Dr. El-Kadi. Many patients can be treated through conservative means, which may include medications, physical therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), injection therapy, steroid therapy, and diet counseling.

“Years ago, all too often, surgery was considered as the first option for patients versus medical intervention,” adds Mr. Martin. “Today’s patients have the advantage that they can try conservative treatments first, like physical therapy and rehabilitation.”

According to Dr. El-Kadi, if patients do require surgery, they are fortunate to have access to three new operating rooms at UPMC Passavant that were built and designed specifically for spine procedures. “These operating rooms include state-of-the-art microscopes that increase visualization in the operative field, which allows us to make smaller incisions and identify muscle pathology with less muscle dissection,” he says. Studies have shown that using minimally invasive surgical techniques can reduce surgical complications and blood loss, decrease the need for pain medications, reduce the length of hospital stays and decrease patients’ recovery time.

The operating rooms at UPMC Passavant also feature high-definition multiple screens that allow surgeons to see x-ray and other diagnostic studies from different angles without leaving the operating table, and spine map 3D software, which is able to navigate spinal anatomy in a matter of seconds and in real time during surgery.

No matter what type of intervention a patient needs, he or she can find the technology, know-how and level of medical expertise required at the UPMC Passavant Spine Center. According to Dr. El-Kadi, patients are already coming to UPMC Passavant from all over Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Virginia, and even Canada for its innovative approach to spine care. “We’ve worked hard over the last 13 years to build a spine program that we could be proud of, and it’s put us on the map,” he explains. “We now treat close to 1,800 spine cases a year, and that number will continue to grow higher.”

The UPMC Passavant Spine Center is located at 12680 Perry Highway, Wexford, across from Walnut Grove Restaurant. For more information, visit

Conditions treated at the UPMC Passavant Spine Center include:
  • Arthritis of spine joints or spine
  • Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar disorders
  • Compression fractures of the spine
  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Facet joint degeneration
  • Herniated/ruptured disks
  • Myelopathy and radiculopathy
  • Neurofibroma
  • Osteoporosis of the spine
  • Pinched nerve
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal tumors
  • Spondylosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Stenosis
  • Spinal infections
  • Tethered spinal cord

This advertorial has been provided by UPMC.