Your doctor has determined that you have a vertebral compression fracture (VCF). This type of fracture can cause severe back pain.
Left untreated, one compression fracture can lead to multiple fractures that, in turn, could alter the shape of your spine and adversely affect your overall health.
Traditional treatment for VCFs is limited to bed rest, bracing and management of pain, often with narcotics. Although appropriate in some cases, this type of treatment does not address the deformity that can occur with multiple fractures.
Balloon Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive treatment that can stabilize the fracture and reduce back pain, as well as restore height and spinal alignment.
About the Procedure
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive treatment in which a small orthopedic balloon devices are used to gently elevate the bone fragments in an attempt to return them to the correct position. Before the procedure, you will have diagnostic studies, such as x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to determine the exact location of the fracture.
Kyphoplasty can be performed under local anesthesia or sedation —your doctor will decide which option is appropriate for you. Typically, the procedure takes less than one hour per fracture treated and will not require overnight hospital stay. Patients are able to return home 30 minutes following the procedure.
Kyphoplasty requires no incisions. Instead, with a hollow needle, the physician creates a small pathway into the fractured bone. A small, balloon is guided through the needle into the vertebra. Next, the balloon is carefully inflated in an attempt to raise the collapsed vertebra and return it to its normal position. Once the vertebra is in the correct position, the balloon is deflated and removed. This process creates a void (cavity) within the vertebral body. The cavity is filled with a special cement to support the surrounding bone and prevent further collapse. The cement forms an internal cast that holds the vertebra in place. Generally, the procedure is done on both sides of the vertebral body.
After the Procedure
After the procedure, you will be transferred to a recovery area where a specially trained nurse will monitor your recovery and pain levels. Generally, patients are discharged within 30 minutes.
Your doctor will have you schedule a follow-up visit and explain limitations, if any, on your physical activity. After treatment with, mobility is often quickly improved. Most patients are very satisfied with the procedure and are able to gradually resume activity.
As with any procedure, there are potential risks. Although Balloon Kyphoplasty is designed to minimize these risks as much as possible, there is a chance that complications could occur. Be sure to discuss the possible risks with your doctor. Also, please note that not all patients are candidates for Balloon Kyphoplasty. For more information on specific risks, please speak with your physician.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Significant reduction in back pain
- Significant improvement in quality of life
- Significant reduction in number of days per month that a patient remains in bed; most patients had a 100% reduction in days in bed, one month post-surgery
- Significant improvement in mobility
- Improved ability to perform activities of daily living, such as walking, hobbies and work
- Significant reduction in number of days where pain interfered with daily activities
- myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- cerebrovascular accident (stroke)
- pulmonary embolism (cement leakage that migrates to the lungs)
- cardiac arrest (heart stops beating)
Other risks (relevant to the anatomy being treated with bone cement) include deep or superficial wound infection, and leakage of cement into the muscle and tissue surrounding the spinal cord. Patients are encouraged to discuss these, and other risks, with their physician.