With one or more vertebral compression fractures, you can potentially experience back pain and abnormal hunching forward (kyphosis). Symptoms are typically manageable without surgery. However, minimally invasive surgery (kyphoplasty) is recommended when non-surgical treatments fail to relieve pain.
The vertebral body is the strong, thick, cylindrical front of the vertebral bone that plays a vital role in handling heavy loads placed on the spine. When a vertebral body is weakened, it is less capable of handling heavy loads and more susceptible to vertebral compression fractures. Kyphoplasty aims to help restore some of the lost vertebral height and stabilize the fractured vertebrae to eliminate associated back pain.
A kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure that is used to treat spinal pain and related issues, and it can also be called “balloon kyphoplasty” because of some of the materials used during treatment. A balloon can be used to treat some cases of spinal compression fracture, allowing the surgeon to add a surgical concrete to build up height or strength in the affected areas.
During the procedure, a surgeon will make a small incision that is approximately 1.5 inches long. The incision is often made using a laser, allowing the scarring to be minimal during healing and to ensure the cut is as clean as possible. From here, a balloon is inserted into the affected area and the surgeon can add a paste-like concrete to safely build up height or mass. This allows the patient to have increased safety against risk of further fracture, build up lost height, and reduce pain or discomfort.
Most vertebral compression fractures heal on their own, and the pain eventually goes away. However, when the vertebral compression fracture has been verified and significant pain persists despite nonsurgical treatments, kyphoplasty may be considered if the following are true:
Before deciding on kyphoplasty as treatment, doctors must also decide if the patient is healthy enough for the procedure.
Before undergoing a kyphoplasty procedure, it’s recommended to quit or reduce unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol or tobacco usage. Tobacco in particular may reduce the chance of bone healing after the procedure.
About a week or so before the procedure, some medications may need to be temporarily halted until after. Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) or blood thinners may increase the risk for complications during the procedure, such as negatively interacting with anesthesia or increasing bleeding. Most patients will not be allowed to have any food or drink six hours before the kyphoplasty procedure. A small amount of water may be allowed up to two hours before surgery.
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Kyphoplasty is an effective treatment for restoring vertebral height and eliminating pain from vertebral compression fractures. Compared to a similar procedure known as vertebroplasty, which stabilizes the fracture without restoring vertebral height, kyphoplasty can offer the same amount of pain relief with similar risks. Kyphoplasty may help the patient achieve better function to protect against future falls or other serious complications.
No medical procedure is 100% risk-free, including kyphoplasty. Some common factors that may increase the risk of symptomatic complications include:
Kyphoplasty is used most often for those who have a compression fracture in the spine. If you are unsure whether you have these fractures and you are eligible for this procedure, we encourage you to speak with your doctor or spinal specialist. Your medical provider can perform an assessment to determine what treatments are best for you, including whether you would likely benefit from a kyphoplasty.
Some individuals without a compression fracture may also be eligible for kyphoplasty, including those with significant spinal pain or discomfort. Other symptoms may also be present that indicate a need for treatment. We encourage you to speak with a medical professional if you are concerned about any of these issues.
If you undergo kyphoplasty, you should expect your surgeon to make a small incision and insert a balloon into a part of your spine. In some cases, anesthesia may be necessary to reduce pain from the procedure. The surgeon will also fill the balloon with a body-safe concrete to build up strength or height in your spine, which can boost confidence and reduce pain.
During recovery, you should not expect a significant amount of pain or discomfort. Scarring should be extremely minimal, if it exists at all. You should also expect reduced presence of pain and other negative symptoms.
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Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgery performed through a small skin puncture rather than a larger incision. A typical kyphoplasty procedure takes one to two hours per vertebral level to complete. Although there are risks, there are also significant benefits to the procedure. A skilled spine surgeon will help patients decide whether kyphoplasty is the best treatment for their condition.
Our award-winning medical team at NJ Spine & Orthopedic offers the latest in research, technology, treatments for pain management, and minimally invasive surgery. Our spine surgeons are leaders in their fields dedicated to delivering minimally invasive spine surgeries to eliminate the pain, discomfort, and dysfunction of numerous neck and back conditions. NJSO combines advanced technology with a patient-centered approach to ensure our patients get the best possible outcomes. Schedule an appointment with one of our spine specialists today by filling out our contact form or calling (866) 272-9271.
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