Lake Area man becomes first in southern region to receive balloon implant for rotator cuff injury

Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 6:29 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Doctors are calling this a “breakthrough solution” - an alternative to rotator cuff surgery. The InSpace balloon implant was cleared by the FDA last summer, with the first surgery in the southern region being completed in Southwest Louisiana.

“The shoulder patient that needs this is in a bind, they can’t lift their arm,” Dr. Cascio, with CHRISTUS Ochsner Lake Area Hospital, said.

It’s for patients like Timothy Foreman, who injured his shoulder 30 years ago.

“I popped it out of the socket, and when they put it back into place, I didn’t think nothing of it - that it was torn,” Foreman said.

He felt the pain of the injury worsen over the years, to the point where it became unbearable.

“The pain was excruciating,” Foreman said.

Then, he received the InSpace balloon implant.

“I was ready to go back to work in two weeks,” Foreman said. “I was moving my arm back. It was just ... just freed me, you know. And they were freaking out, but it is what it is - no pain.”

The balloon implant was approved by the FDA last summer, and Foreman was the first patient in the southern region to get the surgery, given by Dr. Cascio.

Other types of rotator cuff surgeries are usually long, painful and result in a lengthy recovery process.

“A shoulder surgery is a big surgery. You’re in a sling for six weeks,” Dr. Cascio said. “We do them outpatient now, but it’s more difficult than a scope surgery and surely more difficult than this balloon procedure.”

Dr. Cascio said the balloon implant is a shorter, less invasive procedure.

Dr. Cascio used this tool to insert a saline spacer.

“Basically, this cushion is cushioning the bones from rubbing together, so that’s one thing,” Dr. Cascio said. “And then it’s using what we understand about biomechanics in our favor to allow the patient to lift their shoulder without having to have a rotator cuff.”

The balloon biodegrades inside the shoulder over a year, according to Cascio.

“From the outside, it looks, like, magical that this can happen,” Dr. Cascio said.

After a full recovery, Foreman said he’s never felt better!

“Ready to go play baseball!” Foreman said.

Dr. Cascio has completed 12 balloon implant surgeries since it was approved last July and is hoping to continue operating on others who have painful, otherwise inoperable torn rotator cuffs.

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