An estimated 700,000 spinal fractures occur each year, resulting from osteoporosis, hyperthyroidism, thinning of your bones, prolonged steroid use, cancer or an injury that caused broken bones in the spine. When bones in the spine fracture or collapse, you may experience severe or disabling pain for months that does not get better with rest, pain medicines or physical therapy. Kyphoplasty is your best alternative to correct these painful and debilitating issues.
Patients experiencing back pain, sudden onset of chronic pain or a dull back ache may be evidence that a spinal fracture has occurred. If the pain lasts for more than several days, a doctor should be consulted, so that the cause of your back pain can be determined and treated properly.
It is also important to measure your height and keep an eye on your posture. Spinal fractures can cause collapse of the bones in your spine and as a result, height loss can occur.
Multiple spinal fractures can also cause postural changes or a dowager’s hump. If you’ve lost height or you have a dowager’s hump, you may have spinal fractures.
Any new or unusual back pain should be reported to a doctor promptly. A physical examination along with a series of x-rays will help the doctor determine whether you have a spinal fracture or not. After an initial diagnosis, your doctor may recommend kyphoplasty to relieve the symptoms and correct the problem. Although kyphoplasty cannot correct an established deformity of the spine, patients experiencing spinal deformities or painful symptoms from recent osteoporotic compression fractures are very likely candidates for kyphoplasty.
How it Works
A broken bone causes localized swelling and pain. In the spine, made up of 33 adult bones, that swelling and misalignment can irritate adjacent tissue and nerves. When a vertebrae is compromised, or fractured, the entire alignment of your spine can be altered, throwing off the distribution of weight along the spinal column and setting the stage for another fracture.
Kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure can be performed to treat this misalignment and repair spinal fractures. The procedure takes about one hour per fracture and can be done on an outpatient or inpatient basis, with a goal to restore vertebral body height and proper spinal alignment. Here’s what you can expect during the procedure:
- A small incision is made in the back and the doctor will insert a narrow tube into that spot. The tube creates a path through the back into the fractured area of the vertebrae, the pedicle.
- The doctor will use x-ray images to guide the placement of a balloon through the tube and into the vertebrae. The balloon is then gently inflated, elevating the fracture and returning the spine to a more functional position. The soft inner bone is also compacted to create a cavity inside the vertebrae.
- When the balloon is removed, a specially designed instrument is used under low pressure to fill the cavity with cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). This pasty material will harden quickly, stabilizing the bone in its new position.
Balloon kyphoplasty with G21 Medical is a proven technique, precision engineered that has been demonstrated to be low risk, with benefits that include mobility improvement, increased ability to perform daily activities and an overall improved quality of life.
Although kyphoplasty is generally a safe procedure, there is a potential for certain risks including:
- Allergic reactions to medicines
- Breathing or heart problems if you have general anesthesia
- Leakage of the bone cement into surrounding area (this can cause pain if it affects the spine or nerves). Leakage can lead to other treatments to remove the cement.
About the Procedure
The balloon kyphoplasty procedure is performed at a hospital, surgery center or physician office under local or general anesthesia. The procedure takes about an hour for each vertebrae involved. Patients are observed closely in the recovery room immediately following the procedure and occasionally may need to spend a day in the hospital after the kyphoplasty.
Patients should not drive until they are given approval by their doctor. Patients released the day of the procedure will need to arrange for transportation home from the hospital.
After the Procedure
Patients are generally able to walk right after the procedure. Consult with your physician to determine how quickly to return to regular activities and to evaluate if Kyphoplasty is your best alternative to correct these painful and debilitating issues.