Kyphoplasty is a surgical treatment option for pain caused by a vertebral compression fracture. This procedure can stabilize bones and restore some, if not all, lost vertebral body height if performed within eight weeks of the original fracture. This surgery uses a surgical balloon to expand the compressed vertebra before filling that space with bone cement. The balloon allows the vertebra to return to its correct position before the bone cement hardens and reinforces the vertebra.
Kyphoplasty is only for pain related to a recent vertebral fracture, not other back problems, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or arthritis affecting the back. It cannot treat old or chronic fractures of the spine, and those living with severe osteoporosis are not candidates for this treatment. Kyphoplasty cannot correct an established deformity of the spine, such as scoliosis, nor does it reduce any back pain associated with stooping forward or poor posture. It is also not a treatment option for younger patients and those whose compression fracture occurred through trauma or injury.
For those who sustained a vertebral compression fracture, the cause of your fracture will determine the entirety of your treatment plan. You will undergo kyphoplasty surgery in conjunction with treatments meant to prevent repeat fractures. Those whose fractures resulted from osteoporosis, metastatic tumors, multiple myeloma, or vertebral hemangioma will also undergo treatment for that underlying medical condition.
Vertebral compression fracture
Reduces pain from fracture
Restores vertebra to former height
Increase in back’s functional ability and mobility
Before your procedure, your doctor may ask you to stop taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), immunosuppressant medication, and blood thinners to reduce your risk of serious complications or infections. If you are pregnant or suspect you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about alternative treatment options. Your healthcare professional may ask you not to eat or drink several hours before the procedure. This procedure cannot be performed if the patient has an active infection or symptoms of a cold, flu, or similar malady. If you experience these symptoms on the day of the procedure, you will need to reschedule your implant.
During the kyphoplasty, you will lie face down on the table before the medical professional performing the procedure administers anesthesia. Depending on your comfort level and pain tolerance, you may receive general anesthesia delivered via an IV or just a local anesthetic. After the anesthesia takes effect, the healthcare provider will make a small incision in your back before placing a narrow tube into it. Guided by a continuous x-ray, they will insert a medical balloon through the tube into the vertebrae. They will slowly and gently inflate the balloon, which will elevate the fractured vertebrae back into their correct position. Once the vertebrae are correctly positioned, the healthcare provider will remove the balloon before filling the space with a cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate. This cement stabilizes and reinforces your bone to provide pain relief and protect against future fractures.
This procedure takes about one hour per fractured vertebrae. Once the healthcare provider completes the kyphoplasty, you will remain in an observation room to ensure no immediate allergies or other reactions occur. Your healthcare professional may ask you to stay in the hospital overnight, but most patients can return home the same day as their procedure.
You cannot drive after your surgery, nor can you for several days to weeks after it. Your medical professional will provide you with specific instructions on when you can return to driving and other activities. You should avoid strenuous exertion for at least six weeks after your kyphoplasty. You may feel soreness or pain at the incision site, but this will dissipate over the next two to three days. Do not consume any alcohol after your surgery, as this thins your blood and increases the risk of bleeding. Alcohol may increase the likelihood of overdosing on pain medicine.
You may feel pain relief immediately after the surgery, but some patients do not report a decrease in pain for several days. The sooner this procedure is performed after a vertebral compression fracture occurs, the more effective it will be in providing long-term pain relief.
Kyphoplasty is a surgery with a very low chance of suffering any severe complications. As with any medical procedure, there always remains the risk of complications. Common risks include:
Allergic reaction to the balloon, cement, and anesthesia
Infection, bleeding, or bruising at the incision site
Sustaining nerve damage or a spinal cord injury from mistakes made during surgery
Sustaining a nerve injury or spinal cord compression from loose cement entering your veins or epidural space
Tingling, numbness, or weakness caused by nerve damage
Increased back pain
Those living with osteoporosis may be at risk for sustaining additional fractures during the procedure. Your doctor will discuss this risk and any preventative measures before operating.