Kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure that is meant to stop the pain caused by a spinal fracture. The surgery is designed to stabilize the bone and restore at least some of the height in the affected vertebrae. The height of the vertebral body can be lost due to compression fractures. Once the affected vertebrae are restored, the spine is able to function again normally in most cases.
What to Expect During Surgery
General or local anesthesia is used during the surgery. The surgeon takes a posterior approach by making a small incision in the back. A narrow tube is placed through the incision, and it is guided to the correct location. Using X-ray imaging, the doctor is able to insert a special balloon into the tube. The balloon is guided to the vertebrae and then carefully inflated. As the balloon becomes larger, it relieves the fracture, returning it to its original position. The soft inner bone is also compacted so that there is a cavity created inside the vertebrae.
Once the cavity is created, the balloon is removed and the cavity is filled with a material that is like cement. This material hardens quickly so that the bone is almost immediately stabilized. This procedure works for someone who has experienced fractures due to other health conditions, such as osteoporosis. The procedure takes approximately one hour for each of the involved vertebrae. Patients are observed closely to ensure that everything is healing correctly, which means about a one-day stay in the hospital.
Risks of Kyphoplasty
As with all surgeries, there are risks. For instance, there may be a reaction to the anesthesia or a risk of infection. A person could experience spinal cord damage or nerve damage. There is also a small possibility of an allergic reaction to the solution that is used to view the inflating balloon over the x-ray.
It is actually not known whether the procedure could increase the number of fractures in adjacent vertebrae. What is known is that the material injected into the bone doesn’t change the stiffness of the bone in animals. However, human studies don’t exist on the matter. This is something you will want to discuss with your surgeon so that you know what the risks are based on past success rates and your own condition.
Many patients experience immediate pain relief. However, others see pain reduction in about two days. Once home, the patient is able to resume normal activities, although strenuous activity should be avoided for approximately six weeks. Again, the doctor will give orders based off your individual case. When the procedure is performed because of osteoporosis, patients should follow the recommended treatment plan in order to minimize or prevent further bone loss.
Are You a Candidate?
If you have an established deformity in your spine, kyphoplasty isn’t going to help you. Some patients with osteoporosis will not be able to undergo this surgery. Those experiencing a lot of pain or whose spine is deformed from previous osteoporotic compression are candidates for the surgery. When a fracture occurs, the procedure should be performed within two months.