The primary goal of kyphoplasty is to relieve pain caused by vertebral compression fractures, stabilize the bone, and restore lost vertebral height.
Access to the Vertebra: Performed under local or general anesthesia, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back and inserts a narrow tube into the fractured vertebra using X-ray guidance.
Balloon Inflation: A special balloon (bone tamp) is inserted into the vertebra through the tube. The balloon is inflated to elevate the fracture and return the vertebra to a more normal position.
Bone Cement Injection: After creating space, the balloon is deflated and removed, and the space is filled with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), a cement-like material that stabilizes the fracture upon hardening.
Recovery and Outcomes
Patients typically experience rapid pain relief and improved mobility post-procedure. Recovery time is generally short, with most patients resuming normal within a week or two. Kyphoplasty boasts a high success rate in pain relief and vertebral stabilization.
Indications for Kyphoplasty
Kyphoplasty is commonly indicated for treating painful vertebral compression fractures, particularly due to osteoporosis. It is also used for fractures caused by cancer or other lesions in the vertebrae. An MRI is usually necessary to confirm that the fracture is still active (acute or subacute), not chronic. If a patient’s low bone density is not corrected (osteoporosis persists), additional fractures and potentially the need for additional kyphoplasty procedures are likely.
Risks and Considerations
While kyphoplasty is generally safe, it does carry risks like any surgical procedure, including infection, bleeding, increased back pain, and complications from cement leakage. It is not suitable for all spinal fractures or patients with certain medical conditions. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider is essential to determine if kyphoplasty is an appropriate treatment option. Patients who sustain spine fractures are typically elderly and frail. While these patients are high risk for any surgery, not treating the fracture and the subsequent depression, rapid deconditioning from not being active, and the numerous problems with strong pain medications are also huge risks. Thus, kyphoplasty is often a patient’s best chance at resuming an independent lifestyle.
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure effectively treating spinal fractures, offering pain relief and improved stability with a relatively quick recovery period. However, patient selection and consideration of potential risks are crucial for optimal outcomes.