Surgery can offer immediate relief for back fractures

Dr. Thomas GruberDo you suffer from back pain? If so, you are not alone. Back or spine pain is one of the most common health complaints, whether you have lower back pain or hurt all over.

The back can be injured in many ways, including muscle strains, sports injuries, arthritis or degenerative disc disease. Osteoporosis, tumors and injuries can cause spine fractures.

If you have been diagnosed with a spine fracture by your primary physician, then you could be a candidate for several procedures that can offer immediate pain relief for some patients. You don’t have to travel to Louisville, St. Louis or Nashville, Tenn., for these procedures. Baptist Health Paducah offers the same procedures right here close to home, including kyphoplasty, minimally-invasive lumbar fusion and cervical artificial disc replacement.


Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that can offer immediate pain relief for some patients. It stabilizes the fracture and restores the lost body height caused by the fracture. During surgery, the surgeon places a narrow tube through a small incision in the back. A balloon is inserted through the tube and into the vertebrae, where it is inflated to elevate the fracture. The cavity created by the balloon is then filled with a cement-like material that hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone.

Minimally-invasive lumbar fusion

The lumbar spine is located in the lower back, a common source of pain. Spinal fusion is a procedure to fuse vertebrae together so there is no longer motion between them. The minimally-invasive procedure uses smaller incisions and causes less damage to the surrounding tissues. There is less pain for the patient and the recovery time for the muscle to heal is shorter.

Cervical artificial disc replacement

Cervical discs are the cushions or shock absorbers between the bones of the cervical spine (neck).  Discs that are damaged either through injury or degeneration can cause pain, numbness and weakness. Cervical artificial disc replacement is a fairly new surgical procedure to replace a damaged or degenerated cervical disc which has been surgically removed in order to relieve compression on the spinal cord or a nerve root. An artificial cervical disc device is used as the replacement, which is inserted between two cervical vertebrae. Its purpose is to preserve motion at the disc space and to reduce or eliminate pain for the patient.


Hospital stays for these procedures vary from same day surgery to a one or two day overnight stay. In some cases, patients can return almost immediately to their normal daily activities without the need for physical therapy or bracing.

Our services

Theodore Davies, MD, and I offer a full range of brain and spine procedures at Paducah Neurosurgical Center. Your primary care physician can make a referral if you need one of these procedures after a diagnosis.

If you have any health question, talk to a nurse 24/7 at Baptist Health Line: 270.575.2918.

Neurosurgeon Thomas Gruber, MD

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Lung cancer screening can save lives

Yashpal Modi, MDDo you worry about lung cancer? Lung cancer statistics should give anyone a reason to pause, so it’s important to be aware of the risk factors, symptoms and screening options.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer treated at Baptist Health Paducah, as well as the most common cancer in both men and women in the U.S. Lung cancer causes more death than the next three most common cancers (colon, breast, prostate) combined, according to the American Lung Association.

Most lung cancer is caused by smoking and some occupational hazards, but it can also be found in people who have never smoked.

Signs and symptoms can include:

  • A chronic cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss
  • Bone pain
  • Headache

Survival rates for lung cancer depend on how early the illness is diagnosed, but symptoms usually only occur in advanced stages. Therefore, it is critical for people at high risk to be screened before symptoms occur.

People at high risk should be screened

More than 80 percent of lung cancers have a chance of being cured, if detected early. The low-dose lung CT screening at Baptist Health Paducah can give peace of mind to people who may be at a higher risk for lung cancer and meet these criteria:

  • Current or former heavy smokers
  • 55 to 80 years old
  • Less than 15 years since quitting smoking

It includes a CT scan and a same-day consultation with a cardiovascular specialist.

The cost is $185. Check with your private insurance carrier to see if your plan covers this cost. Also, those covered by Medicare should know that CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid) has a pending proposal to cover the cost for some who meet certain guidelines.

You can see if you meet the criteria by completing an online form at or phoning Baptist Health Line at 270.575.2918. You will be asked to provide your name, age, tobacco smoking history and contact information.

  • Oncologist Yashpal Modi, MD
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Baptist Health Paducah offers new treatments for atrial fibrillation

Dr. AkramDoes your heart quiver or skip beats? If you suffer from ventricular or supraventricular arrhythmia (SVT, atrial flutter, WPW, atrial tachycardia or atrial fibrillation) you are not alone. Atrial fibrillation or afib is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, affecting about 2.7 million Americans, and the likelihood increases as you age. In fact, it is the most common heart-related reason for hospital admission.

A normal heart contracts and relaxes to a normal beat. With afib, the upper chambers of the heart quiver instead of beat as blood moves through the ventricles. Patients with this condition have an increase chance of stroke, heart failure and blood clots.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation

The most common sign of afib is a quivering or fluttering heartbeat, while others may experience no symptoms at all. Other symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pressure and sweating. The most common causes of this condition include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart valve disease and cardiomyopathy.

Who treats atrial fibrillation?

As an electrophysiology (EP) cardiologist, I recently joined the Baptist Health Heart Group to treat afib, among other conditions. An EP cardiologist, usually referred to as an electrophysiologist, specializes in diagnosing and treating abnormal heart rhythms. Besides fibrillations, EP cardiologists are trained to treat conditions such as heart palpitations, slow and fast heart rates and arrhythmias.

Medications to treat afib include blood thinners to prevent blood clot formation, beta blockers to slow the heart rate and heart rhythm controlling medications.

One procedure to treat supraventricular arrhythmias (SVT, atrial flutter, atrial tachycardia and atrial fibrillation) is catheter ablation, which is similar to a heart cath. During this minimally-invasive procedure, a small catheter with an electrode on the end is placed inside the heart. The electrode sends out radio waves that create heat, which destroys the heart tissue causing afib. Catheter ablation can stop atrial fibrillation and relieve symptoms.

For more information, phone the Baptist Heart Group at 270.575.3113.

Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline

If you have questions about heart attack or stroke symptoms, you can talk to a Baptist nurse free 24 hours a day on the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1.800.575.1911.

  • Cardiologist Muhammad Akram, MD
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Convenient care during the holidays

When do you need a walk-in clinic or the Emergency department?

Dr. William ConyerWhen the holidays get hectic, and you need convenient care, Baptist Prime Care and Baptist Express Care clinics in select Walmart stores may be the best choice.

Many people turn to the Emergency department as their first choice. While it is not uncommon for the Emergency department at Baptist Health Paducah to treat all kinds of illnesses, from the common cold to a heart attack, people can save time and money by choosing the appropriate provider for different needs.

The Emergency department is for emergencies. The sudden onset of severe headaches, chest pain, fainting spells and neurological issues should be evaluated in the ED because of their potential to be life-threatening.

For NON-life-threatening conditions – medicine refills, pregnancy tests or ongoing treatment for a chronic condition – there are more convenient walk-in choices, where you can see a health professional without an appointment:

  • Baptist Health Prime Care, on the main campus at 2501 Kentucky Ave, is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
  • Baptist Express Care, in Walmart SuperCenters on Hinkleville Road and Irvin Cobb Drive, are open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

David Saxon, MD, and I treat patients at Baptist Health Prime Care, along with nurse practitioners and nurses. We provide primary care, as well as offer on-site lab and X-ray.

Prime and Express Care clinics both are equipped to handle ailments such as:

  • Minor headaches, back pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Minor allergic reactions
  • Coughs, sore throat
  • Bumps, cuts, scrapes
  • Rashes, minor burns
  • Minor fever, colds
  • Ear or sinus pain
  • Sprains, strains
  • Eye swelling, pain, irritation or redness

I also serve as the medical director of Baptist Express Care, a good walk-in option for  fast, affordable basic healthcare services, including check-ups, vaccinations, screenings and treatment for minor injuries for people over 2 years old. Express Care is operated by well-trained nurse practitioners and often you’re in-and-out in a flash. Prices are posted so patients know the cost before treatment; and cash, credit cards and most major insurance plans are accepted.

Both locations will be closed on Christmas. If you have a question about where to go, ask our nurses at Baptist Health Line at 270.575.2918.

– William Conyer, MD, family practice physician

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Baptist Health Paducah offers area’s only NICU

Dr. OwensFor four years, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Baptist Health Paducah has been a blessing for 700 local families, including many of my own patients, whose newborns need extra care. It is now expanding to allow more families to benefit from this service close to home.

Helping families

Before the NICU was available here, babies born prematurely or with other developmental problems had to be transported to Louisville or Nashville, often while their parents juggled work schedules and caring for other children at home.

Now, if your baby does come early, it’s comforting to know the NICU stands ready to care for babies born up to 10 to 12 weeks early, providing expert care close to home. Babies as small as 1 kilogram – about the size of a squash – can stay here while they grow and get the help they need from respiratory, rehab, pharmacy and other special services.

While expectant parents prepare for the birth of their little one, they are relieved to know that specially-trained staff, including a neonatologist and NICU nurses, is here to care for their newborns if they need special care.

One of my patients, Lashonda Saddler, and her husband, Patrick, knew from experience the value of a NICU close by. Their older son had to be hospitalized in Nashville when there was no NICU here. When their second son, Zani, arrived early in March 2013, he stayed in the Baptist NICU for two weeks.

“I had a little more peace knowing the NICU was here in case he came early,”  Lashonda said. “It was awesome to be able to go home and get some sleep and then drive 10 minutes to see my baby.”

The local service also allowed Patrick, the band director at Paducah Tilghman High School, to continue working. “I didn’t have to drive back and forth to Nashville. It was close to home and just across the street from my work,” he said.


Babies have been important throughout the 60-year history of Baptist Health Paducah. The first baby was born here just four hours after the hospital opened in 1953, and nearly 80,000 have followed – more than four times the number at the area’s other hospitals combined.

Baptist Health Paducah’s NICU opened with six beds, but it has recently been approved to add four more. Renovation will be conducted in phases over two years, first involving the relocation of some physician offices in Doctors Office Building 2. We are pleased to be able to meet this community need.

If you have a question about your pregnancy, ask our nurses at StorkLine 24 hours a day at 270.575.BABY; or if you need an obstetrician-gynecologist, phone Baptist Health at 270.575.4551.

– Dennis Owens, MD, obstetrician

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Baptist new radiation equipment to shorten treatment

Dr. GruberBaptist Health Paducah, the Paducah area’s only nationally-accredited cancer center, is on the brink of an exciting new era in cancer treatment.

The hospital recently invested $3.1 million to purchase new technology that can shorten radiation treatments from weeks to days.

When installed next March, it will be used to perform new techniques known as stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiotherapy. Stereotactic means imaging markers are used to guide the beam of the radiation or the surgeon to the precise spot needing treatment to minimize the damage done to any surrounding tissue.

Why is it better?

For brain surgery, the new stereotactic equipment represents a major advance. Since we added neurosurgical staff to treat cases locally, the number of brain tumor patients treated at Baptist Health has tripled. This non-invasive treatment for brain tumors truly is a paradigm shift.

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a highly precise form of radiation therapy initially developed to treat small brain tumors and functional abnormalities of the brain. It is now being applied to the treatment of body tumors with a procedure known as stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).

The new equipment will provide an alternative to invasive surgery, especially for patients unable to have surgery and for hard-to-reach tumors close to vital organs. Besides brain tumors, it can be used to treat tumors throughout the body, including lung, liver, spine, prostate and head and neck.

It is the most advanced technology available anywhere, and it will be here in Paducah. Oftentimes local patients travel out-of-state for treatment, but this new treatment will allow them to stay close to home.

New cancer center

This treatment will become part of a comprehensive all-under-one-roof Regional Cancer Care Center at Baptist Health Paducah. Baptist Health treats about 1,200 patients a year, including about 110 outpatients daily for radiation and chemotherapy.

To meet the growing need, Baptist Health Paducah announced recently its 2015 plans to develop the cancer center. It already has retained an architect, made site visits to other cancer centers and conducted focus groups with physicians and patients to determine their needs for a new center.

Preliminary plans call for the center to be developed adjacent to the current radiation therapy area on the northeast end of the campus on the Broadway side. It will bring together radiation therapy, outpatient chemotherapy, lab, rehabilitation, research, education resources, palliative care, dietary counseling, complementary medicine and retail space – with nurse navigators to assist patients and their families as they go from diagnosis through treatment.

Nov. 20 informational meeting

The public is invited to an informational meeting to ask questions and hear more details about the center at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, in the Baptist Heart Center auditorium. At 7 p.m., details will be provided on an expansion of our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

If you have any health questions, talk to a nurse 24/7 at Baptist Health Line: 270.575.2918.

  • Neurosurgeon Thomas Gruber, MD
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Staying healthy during the hectic holidays

LeaFrom Halloween to New Year’s, the holidays are filled with high-sugar, high-calorie treats to wreck your diet and extra activities to derail your daily fitness regimen. It’s hard to stay on a healthy path when stress and festivities lurk around every corner.

The average person gains five pounds over the holidays, which can be hard on the heart. It’s important not to give up, even if you have a bad day or two. Get back to your healthy lifestyle as soon as you can because small changes can have a big impact on your health over the long-run.

Heart disease is the leading killer for men and women in the U.S., but many of its risks can be diminished through small lifestyle changes. A heart-healthy lifestyle not only includes maintaining an ideal weight and exercising, but also eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing unhealthy fat, sugar and salt in our diets. This is important for adults and children.

Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, and about a third of children and adolescents weigh too much. The extra pounds put us at a greater risk of developing several debilitating and costly diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Tips for a healthy holiday

  • Don’t completely deprive yourself of holiday foods you love. Instead, eat them less often and in smaller portions.
  • Stroll around the neighborhood for 30 minutes looking at the Christmas lights or exercise indoors, if the weather doesn’t permit outside activities.
  • Before a holiday party, eat a healthy snack, such as nonfat yogurt or a piece of fruit. The fruit will fill you up and help you pass up party foods.
  • If chocolate is your passion, choose one piece of dark chocolate, which is full of antioxidants.
  • Use the stairs, instead of the elevator, while shopping. Or park away from the store entrance, and walk a little farther. Every step counts.
  • Buy lean cuts of meat for family meals, and boil or grill them to reduce the fat. When serving potatoes, use yams or sweet potatoes to increase vitamins and minerals. Try using low-fat buttermilk instead of butter and cream in mashed potatoes. Cook with olive oil instead of unhealthy oils or fats.

Heart-healthy recipes

Baptist Health Paducah provides a variety of heart-healthy recipes at For people dealing with congestive heart failure, check out the recipes to control salt in your diet and manage fluid intake to protect your heart.

If you need extra help with your weight, Baptist Health now offers medical and surgical weight loss programs. Check for free information sessions.

Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline

If you have questions about heart attack or stroke symptoms, you can talk to a Baptist nurse free 24 hours a day on the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1.800.575.1911.

  • Cardiologist Brian Lea, MD
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