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Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is a procedure designed to relieve back pain caused by compression fractures of the thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (low-back) spine that have failed to heal normally. These fractures of the vertebrae are most often seen in the elderly population and are usually the result of severe weakening of the bone from osteoporosis. The underlying osteoporosis often results in delayed healing or lack of healing of the fracture.

Osteoporosis can also be seen in younger individuals, typically as a result of long-term use of steroids used to treat diseases such as asthma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Compression fractures may also occur in vertebra weakened by cancer.

Procedure Preparation

If you are a candidate for this procedure we will discuss this option with you at your initial visit in our office. When you make the decision to have the procedure, you will schedule an appointment with our staff at a local hospital.

Please bring any previous imaging study results (MRI, CT, x-rays) such as films, reports, or CD-ROMs to your initial appointment, if you do not have current images, we may refer you to have them done prior to the procedure.

Usually patients are admitted to the hospital for this procedure. Plan on staying overnight. You will need an adult to take you home the next day.

Please notify our physician if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

Please be prepared to discuss any medications that you are currently on with our physician, or bring your medication bottles with you to your initial appointment.

During the Procedure

You will be admitted to the hospital or surgery center the morning of the procedure for preparation and preoperative nursing assessment.

Laboratory tests to ensure proper blood clotting may be necessary at this time.

Kyphoplasty is generally performed using a local anesthetic (numbing medication) in conjunction with heavy sedation, administered by an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist.

Using x-ray-guidance (fluoroscopy), the physician inserts a specialized needle through the skin into the damaged vertebra on each side. The x-ray assures accurate placement of the needle.

Through the outer needle, channels are drilled within the bone. KyphX balloons, or bone tamps, are then placed into each channel.

The balloons are slowly inflated, moving the collapsed vertebra to try and restore the bone to its original shape.

Once the desired result is achieved, the balloons are deflated and the cavities that have been created within the bone are filled with bone cement, which has the consistency of toothpaste.

The bone cement hardens over 10-20 minutes, stabilizing the fractured vertebra. It is possible to treat more than one fractured vertebra during the same operation, if necessary.

After the Procedure

Kyphoplasty generally requires admission to the hospital, although the actual hospital stay is usually around 24 hours, depending on the patient's condition and the number of fractures that are treated.

Most patients experience marked pain relief within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, and they may resume activities soon after the procedure.

Possible Side Effects

Complications are rare, but you are encouraged to keep a record of any symptoms you experience following the procedure and report them to the physician at the time of the follow-up visit, usually 7 to 14 days after the procedure.

A full course of physical therapy will help you to fully recover, strengthen your back and core muscles, and maximize your recovery.