Resources

Q

What is kyphoplasty?

A

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive spinal surgery procedure to correct fractures in vertebra. The kyphoplasty procedure involves the use of a balloon to restore the vertebral body height and shape and is followed by bone cement to strengthen it.

Q

What does kyphoplasty treat?

A

Kyphoplasty treats osteoporotic fractures in vertebra, which are also referred to as vertebral compression fractures.

Q

What causes vertebral compression fractures?

A

Vertebral compression fractures are most often caused by osteoporosis, which is the loss of calcium from bones resulting in weakened bone structure. Osteoporosis increases the risk of fracture of the vertebral body (the thick block of bone at the front of the vertebrae). Osteoporosis occurs more often in women then men, with women accounting for 80 percent of all osteoporosis cases. Vertebral compression fractures can be also be caused by cancer, arthritis, degenerative disc diseases or trauma to the back, such as a fall or car accident.

Q

What are symptoms of vertebral compression fractures?

A

A vertebral compression fracture allows the top of the vertebral body to collapse down and produce a “wedged” vertebrae and shortened height. The resulting change in height and spinal alignment can lead to a condition called kyphosis, in which the back begins to round or become hunched.

Symptoms of kyphosis and vertebral compression fractures include:

  • Chronic or severe back pain
  • Limited function and reduced mobility
  • Loss of independence in daily activities
  • Decreased lung function
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of height
  • Decrease appetite
  • Depression/anxiety
Q

Who is at risk for vertebral compression fractures?

A

Those with osteoporosis, cancer, arthritis, degenerative disc diseases or those who have had trauma to the back, such as a fall or car accident are at risk for vertebral compression fractures.

Q

Who is a candidate for kyphoplasty?

A

Patients experiencing painful symptoms or spinal deformities from recent osteoporotic compression fractures are likely candidates for kyphoplasty. The procedure should be completed within eight weeks of when the fracture occurs for the highest probability of restoring height. Kyphoplasty cannot correct an established deformity of the spine, and some patients with osteoporosis are not candidates for this treatment. You should see your physician for the best treatment option for you.

Q

What should I expect before my kyphoplasty?

A

Before the treatment, you will have a medical examination and diagnostic studies performed (such as X-rays) to identify the Vertebral compression fractures. The kyphoplasty procedure can be performed while you are asleep (under general anesthesia) or awake (using local anesthesia). Your physician will discuss which option is most appropriate for you.

Q

What happens during my kyphoplasty?

A

The kyphoplasty begins with a small incision being made in the back through which a narrow tube is placed. The tube creates a path through the back and into the fractured area. Using X-ray images, a special balloon is inserted through the tube and into the vertebrae, then carefully inflated. As the balloon inflates, it elevates the fracture, returning the pieces to a more normal position. After the balloon is removed the cavity is injected with a cement-like material. The cement-like material quickly hardens and stabilizes the bone. The kyphoplasty procedure takes about one hour for each vertebra involved.

Q

What should I expect after my kyphoplasty?

A

Patients are observed closely in the recovery room immediately following the kyphoplasty procedure. Patients usually leave the hospital the day of the procedure or spend one day in the hospital. Pain relief will be immediate for some patients. In others, elimination or reduction of pain is reported within two days. At home, patients can return to their normal daily activities, although strenuous exertion, such as heavy lifting, should be avoided for at least six weeks. Patients should see their physician to begin a plan to prevent further bone loss.

Q

How successful is kyphoplasty?

A

Physicians report both short and long term improvements in patients including:

  • Significant reduction of back pain
  • Improvement of performing daily activities
  • Improvement in overall quality of life
  • Body height restoration

In a United States study kyphoplasty patients were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the procedure on a scale from 1-20, where 1 was “completely dissatisfied” and 20 was “completely satisfied.” One week after the procedure the mean score was 17.5 and two years later the median score was 20.

For more information about this procedure or general information about our interventional radiology practice, please contact us by calling 513-527-9999.