Submitted by Mississippi Valley Surgery Center
It was a fourteen-year-old girl who helped physician Maruti Kari decide the course of his medical career. The teen was suffering from reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), a rare and very painful nervous system disorder. He met her while doing clinical research in pain management at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. He was struck by the devastating impact pain was having on her life.
“Pain can be a scary, debilitating thing. It can prevent you from following your normal routine. It can become all-encompassing,” said Dr. Kari. “This girl’s pain was so intense that she had to drop out of school. She wasn’t able to see her friends every day and for a teenage girl that was very difficult to accept.”
Dr. Kari was part of a pain team that changed all that. Over the course of a few years, they were able to help the young patient improve her quality of life so much that she was able to graduate high school. Witnessing first-hand what an impact the deliberate and carefully selected pain management therapies had on the young patient ultimately led him to choose pain management as his career.
“I recently learned she went to college and became an engineer,” said Dr. Kari. “She really inspired me to help others who are suffering.”
Dr. Kari brought his expertise and passion for helping those who are suffering from pain to the Quad Cities two years ago. He is one of three physicians at the Unity Point Health Pain Management Center and regularly performs outpatient procedures at Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, an outpatient surgery center at 3400 Dexter Court in Davenport.
Patients from around the Quad Cities area choose to have their outpatient procedures at the Mississippi Valley Surgery Center because most people feel physically and emotionally more comfortable in an outpatient setting. In addition, physicians from a variety of practices choose to perform their outpatient procedures at the Surgery Center because they are experts in the latest, proven techniques that lead to better outcomes and faster recovery.
What does a pain specialist do?
A pain management specialist is a physician with special training in evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of all different types of pain.
Pain is different for everyone. It includes acute pain, chronic pain and cancer pain. Some people suffer from a combination of these types of pain caused for different reasons, including disease, injury and metabolic problems such as diabetes.
“As a pain specialist, I take a multidisciplinary approach to help people regain control of their life,” said Dr. Kari. “Many of my patients have seen multiple other doctors already and are very desperate. The therapies we do really do change their quality of life. Some of them end up doing things they never thought they’d be able to do again – like sit through their child’s volleyball game or play a round of golf. That’s what keeps me going!”
Helping Quad-City cancer patients
Since beginning his Quad-City career, Dr. Kari has been improving the lives of area cancer patients. That’s because Dr. Kari performs intrathecal drug delivery procedures to help cancer patients alleviate pain. These “pain pumps” are a method of giving medication directly to patients’ spinal cords.
“In the rest of the United States it’s very common for cancer patients to have these types of pain pumps,” said Dr. Kari. “But in this area it wasn’t very common. Before I came there were not many providers who were doing this. Since I started practicing here, I’ve implanted several of these pain pumps to manage both cancer and non-cancer chronic pain.”
The system – which is also commonly used for people suffering from other types of chronic pain – uses a small pump that is surgically placed under the skin of the abdomen to deliver medication through a catheter to the spinal nerves. Because the medication is delivered directly to the spinal cord, symptoms can be controlled with a much smaller dose than is needed when taken orally.
As an outpatient procedure, patients are able to return home and begin recovering on the same day of the surgery.
“The Mississippi Valley Surgery Center is an ideal facility for these types of procedures,” said Dr. Kari. “There are reduced wait times for patients, and everyone on the team is efficient, thorough, very accommodating and most importantly – well trained.”
Using innovative technologies to reduce pain
Another procedure Dr. Kari has introduced to the area is kyphoplasty – an innovative outpatient surgical procedure designed to stop the pain caused by a spinal fracture. It stabilizes the bone by restoring some or all of the lost vertebral body height due to a compression fracture.
“During the surgery, I make a small incision in the back through which I place a narrow tube. Using X-ray images, I then insert a special balloon through the tube and carefully inflate it. Next, I fill the cavity with bone cement, stabilizing the bone,” said Dr. Kari. “Pain relief is usually instantaneous, so when patients wake up their pain is usually gone.”
To learn more about Dr. Maruti Kari, visit www.unitypoint.org/.
To learn more about Mississippi Valley Surgery Center, go to www.mvhealth.net and visit Facebook at facebook.com/MississippiValleySurgeryCenter.