It’s no question that a fracture or break in one of your spine’s vertebrae can be painful and impact your daily life tremendously when unable to move freely. Luckily, kyphoplasty is a procedure designed to stop the pain, stabilize the bone, and restore lost vertebral height caused by the injury. Continue reading to learn about what the procedure entails, who would be a candidate, and the recovery process.
Candidates for Kyphoplasty
Kyphoplasty is used to treat spinal compression fractures, which occur in the spinal vertebrae when weakened by osteoporosis or due to trauma such as falling or a car accident. Compression fractures typically occur in the thoracic region of the spine, which includes the T1 through T12 vertebrae, but may also occur in the lumbar spine, or L1 through L5.
The GSMC team recommends performing a kyphoplasty within 8 weeks of the fracture taking place for the best results when it comes to restoring the spine’s original height.
Patients are given moderate sedation (similar to a colonoscopy) during the 20-minute procedure. After instilling local anesthesia, a small stab incision is made in the patient’s back through which a narrow tube is carefully placed into the broken vertebral body using x-ray guidance. Once properly placed, a cavity is created to allow proper placement of a cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) as well as to restore the natural height and shape of the vertebral body. This medical cement hardens very quickly to internally cast and stabilize the bone within minutes.
Kyphoplasty is an outpatient procedure and when completed, the patient is monitored in the post-anesthesia care unit for approximately 20-30 minutes. Once a patient is awake enough to get dressed, eat, and drink they are discharged home. Many patients start to feel improvement as they are leaving the recovery room; the overwhelming majority of patients will feel significant relief within 24 hours of the procedure.
While normal activities, with exception to driving, can be resumed immediately, our team recommends avoiding strenuous activities for at least 6 weeks.
Risks and Complications of Kyphoplasty
As with any medical procedure, there are always risks and complications to consider. For the most part, complications are rare due to our highly skilled and experienced doctors who perform this procedure on a weekly basis.
Specifically for kyphoplasty, complications may include:
- Nerve damage or a spinal cord injury from malpositioned instruments placed in the back
- Nerve injury or spinal cord compression from leaking of the PMMA
- Allergic reaction to polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)