What is Kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure for people suffering with compression fractures of the spine. This procedure involves inserting a balloon into the damaged vertebra followed by a special material. The material hardens and stabilizes the vertebra, preventing further collapse.
It may reduce the pain caused by bone rubbing against bone. Patients can resume regular activities almost immediately. Previously, the only treatment available to most people with this problem was weeks of bed rest and pain medications.
What Causes Compression Fractures?
Compression fractures of the spine are usually the result of osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and the disease causes 700,000 vertebral fractures annually. The majority of fractures occur in women.
Younger people can also suffer from these fractures as the result of weakened bones from long-term use of steroids used to treat diseases such as asthma, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sometimes the bone becomes so weak and brittle that a fracture may occur by simply coughing or rolling out of bed.
Regardless of the cause, a compression fracture of the spine may result in greatly limited activity, severe pain and a tremendous reduction in the quality of life.
How Long Is Recovery?
Patients are observed in the recovery area for 1 to 3 hours after the procedure. Many patients leave the hospital the day after the procedure though some may go home the same day.
Patients can go back to their normal activities within 1 to 2 days with few, if any, restrictions.
What is the Success Rate, and Are There Side Effects?
Recent studies have documented a 95% to 100% success rate in terms of pain relief. Some patients experienced immediate relief while others reported elimination or reduction of pain within two days. Complications are rare, but as with any medical procedure, you need to discuss these possibilities with your doctor.
How is Kyphoplasty Performed?
Through small incisions and using special X-rays, the doctor inserts a narrow tube into the damaged vertebra. Through this tube, a balloon is inserted into the center of the vertebra. The balloon is inflated, pushing the bone back toward its original height and shape. The balloon is removed and special material is slowly injected into the remaining cavity.
Once it hardens, it should stabilize the fractured vertebra near its normal height. Restoring the height of the vertebra is more successful if kyphoplasty is performed within 6 to 8 weeks of the fracture. Kyphoplasty can be performed under local or general anesthesia and generally takes 30 to 60 minutes for each fracture treated.
Who Can Benefit From Kyphoplasty?
The best candidates for the procedure are people who have recently suffered a compression fracture of the spine and are having moderate to severe back pain. A person's pain must be related to a vertebral fracture and not due to other problems, such as disk herniation or severe arthritis.