What does a Kyphoplasty do?

Patients who are suffering from spinal compression fractures likely experience symptoms like spinal deformities, pain, and loss of height. Luckily, these can all be treated with a surgical procedure called kyphoplasty. This type of injury normally happens to people with osteoporosis, which is a condition that causes bone density loss. This condition is common amongst older people, most especially women over 50. Compression fractures in the spine can also happen to younger people, especially if their bones become brittle due to certain medical conditions or prolonged intake of steroids.

The aim of kyphoplasty is to stabilize the spine and fill in the gaps left by the fracture with bone cement. This straightens out the spine, relieves any pain, and gives patients back the height they lost because of the compression fracture. The entire procedure is minimally invasive, and can be done in a hospital or in an accredited out-patient surgical facility.

Ideal Candidates for Kyphoplasty

There are many spinal conditions that may cause pain similar to that of a compression fracture. This is why in order to be considered as a good candidate for the surgery, a patient must undergo several tests, such as bone scans, x-rays of the spine, MRIs, and CT scans. These tests determine whether their pain is due to a compression fracture in the spine or other spinal conditions, such as spinal stenosis, herniated discs, or arthritis. Once the surgeon determines that the pain experienced by the patient is indeed caused by a compression fracture, then they can proceed with the surgery.

The procedure is best done on candidates who have experienced the fractures only recently. Surgery must be done up to 8 weeks after the fracture occurred, to increase the chances of success. This is to make sure that the spinal deformity has not been established yet and to restore as much height as was lost because of the fracture.

How the Procedure is Done

Patients who are about to undergo kyphoplasty are put under general anesthesia. The whole procedure lasts an hour for each of the vertebrae needing to be treated. The more fractures there are, the longer the surgery will take.

The surgery begins with a narrow tube inserted into a small incision made on the patient’s back. Using a fluoroscope (an instrument used to take real-time x-ray images displayed on a monitor), the tube is guided towards the affected vertebrae. Once the tube is in place, a balloon-like device is inserted into the tube until it reaches its intended target. Once the balloon is in the right place, it is inflated slowly to elevate the fracture, and straighten out the spine.

The balloon also causes a cavity to be created inside the spine when it compresses the inner bone. When the surgeon sees that the spine is in the ideal position, the balloon is removed, and the cavity created within the spine is filled with a cement-like substance called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). This bone cement will harden quickly as soon as it is released into the cavity, giving immediate stabilization to the spine and correcting the deformity caused by the fracture. This process is repeated until all the fractured vertebrae are treated.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a compression fracture and are interested in the kyphoplasty procedure, call us today, and schedule an appointment with one of our respected and well-trained surgeons.