Spinal compression fractures can create long-term back pain, and several methods are used to relieve that pain. When conservative treatment doesn’t work or is not advisable for the patient, surgical options are preferred. One such option is kyphoplasty surgery.
What is Kyphoplasty Surgery?
In this minimally-invasive procedure, a narrow tube is inserted into the fractured vertebra through a small incision. A balloon is sent through the tube and gently inflated once inside the vertebra. This elevates the fracture and brings the pieces of the outside of the vertebra into more normal positions. Meanwhile, it compresses the softer bone within.
Once this is done, the balloon is retracted. Then, instruments are used to inject a paste-like cement into the space made by the balloon. The paste quickly hardens, bringing long-term stabilization to the bone.
This is repeated for each vertebra that has fractured. Several vertebrae may be treated during the procedure.
Is Kyphoplasty Painful?
The actual procedure is done under local or general anesthesia, so it is painless. Once the anesthetic wears off, you can expect some soreness in your back for the next few days.
Our experienced doctor will give specific recommendations for follow-up care and visits. You can expect to be advised to take it easy for a while so that your back isn’t put under stress while recovering.
Is a Hospital Stay Required for Kyphoplasty?
In most cases, patients are sent home the same day as the procedure. When this happens, the patient will need a ride home. Sometimes, a patient may stay in the hospital overnight instead. Your doctor will determine which option will be best in your specific case.
How Does the Doctor See What He or She is Doing?
In the case of kyphoplasty, visualization is accomplished through the use of real-time x-ray technology. The image of your spine, and the surgical tools, appears on a screen. Your surgeon will watch the screen to see where he or she is going during the procedure and ensure the proper placement of the tools, balloon, and bone cement.
Who Needs Kyphoplasty Surgery?
Kyphoplasty is normally done for sufferers of osteoporosis. This disease makes it easy for bones to fracture, including the ones in the spine. Over time, spinal fractures from osteoporosis cause a stooped posture and a frail appearance. They can also be very painful, as with any other problem with the spine.
Other conditions, as well as accidents, can also cause compression fractures in the spine. These fractures may also be treated by kyphoplasty.
Before performing the surgery, your back surgeon will examine you and your spine to make sure that you’re a good candidate for it. This examination will include x-rays, and can also involve MRI and other scans. By performing this examination first, the doctor helps to ensure that the surgery will indeed help you. The exam also rules out other possible causes of your pain.
How Long Should You Wait Before Trying Kyphoplasty Surgery?
Surgery is recommended only when conservative methods are not working. If the conservative approach fails after a trial of 4-6 weeks, it’s time to consider surgery. The amount of wait time is even shorter in patients who are at risk of becoming bedridden.
Osteoporosis often affects elderly patients, and elderly people are much less able to tolerate being confined to bed. Therefore, it’s better for such patients to proceed directly to surgery if spinal fracture pain is greatly hindering mobility.
Does Kyphoplasty Surgery Actually Work?
According to a study appearing in PubMed, kyphoplasty immediately improved both pain and mobility in osteoporosis patients who underwent the procedure. Patients were then monitored for three years to see if the improvement remained. Not only did it indeed remain, but kyphoplasty patients also experienced fewer further fractures compared to control subjects.
Another study, this one shorter-term, measured vertebral height as well as pain scores. It noted that vertebral height was increased in those who received kyphoplasty surgery, while it continued to decrease in subjects who declined the procedure.
How New is Kyphoplasty?
Some sources refer to this procedure as “new,” but those sources themselves are several years old. The reality is that the first procedure was performed in 1998. That’s over 20 years ago. There has been plenty of time for the procedure to show its benefits and drawbacks.
If you’re in Florida and think that kyphoplasty surgery may be for you, make an appointment for an evaluation with us here at Full Circle Orthopedics. We’re specialists in treating spine and bone issues. Our surgeon, Robert Donnelly, MD, will be glad to examine you to determine the best course of action for solving your spine pain and mobility problems. Contact us today to get started.