What is Kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty may be recommended for cancer-damaged vertebrae or certain spinal fractures.
In most cases, a weakening of the bones (osteoporosis) has caused the vertebrae to compress or collapse, causing back pain. Spinal fractures can also cause a change in posture or loss of height.
Balloon Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that can repair fractured vertebrae in the spine and reduce painful symptoms. The procedure involves placing orthopedic balloons into the vertebral body in an attempt to restore height and allow for the injection of cement into the fractured vertebra.
A CT or MRI of the spine may be required to see if you are a candidate for kyphoplasty. A CT or MRI is used to see if there are other causes of back pain not treatable with kyphoplasty. Kyphoplasty is not used to treat herniated disks or arthritic back pain. Chronic healed vertebral fractures are usually not amenable to kyphoplasty.
How is the procedure performed?
Kyphoplasty is performed in a special procedure room, on a fluoroscopy table where real-time X-ray imaging can be used. The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis and most patients go home the same day.
You will be flat on your stomach. The skin will be cleansed with antiseptic and draped with a sterile drape, and a local anesthetic will be given. Local anesthetic stings when being applied, and will eliminate sharp pain, however, you will feel pressure during the procedure. The procedure is usually done under conscious sedation, although sometimes general anesthesia is used.
Using live X-ray guidance, the interventional radiologist inserts a special needle through the back into the fractured bone. A balloon is then inflated to help the vertebra regain its normal shape. Cement is then injected while using live X-ray to ensure it is being delivered to the right place.
The procedure usually takes less than one hour, but may take longer if multiple vertebrae are being treated.
What will I experience after the procedure?
Sedation may make you feel relaxed or sleepy. You will spend some time in the recovery room after the procedure. You should start walking an hour after the procedure and may feel some soreness where the needle was placed. This pain usually resolves in the first few days after the procedure.
You may notice that your back pain is improved even within the first few hours after the procedure.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
Before the procedure, you may have blood tested to determine how well your kidneys and your blood clotting are functioning. You should inform your doctor of all medications you are taking, including any herbal supplements. Inform us of any allergies, particularly to local or general anesthetic medications or to contrast materials (sometimes called X-ray dye) or to latex gloves. Always inform your doctor if you are or may be pregnant.
Eat a light meal the evening before. You will be instructed not to eat or drink after midnight before the procedure, and if you are diabetic you should receive instructions from your doctor about adjusting medications and insulin dose on the day of the procedure. You will be asked to remove your clothing and wear a gown during the procedure. You will also need a ride home with a friend or relative.
How will I get my results?
The interventional radiologist will be able to inform you whether the procedure was technically successful.
What are the benefits and risks?
Most patients report improvement in their back pain in the first few hours to days following the procedure. Up to 75 percent of patients regain lost mobility and are able to become more active.
Kyphoplasty can increase a patient’s functional ability and improve back pain related to vertebral compression fractures.
Any invasive procedure carries a risk of infection, but it is less than one percent with kyphoplasty. Any bleeding is usually not significant. When the cement is injected, some can leak out of the vertebral body. This usually does not cause a serious problem unless the cement travels to the spinal canal or lungs. Up to 10 percent of patients may develop additional compression fractures next to the level treated with kyphoplasty. These patients usually experience initial improvement in their pain with delayed recurrence of their back pain. Increased back pain, numbness or tingling, or paralysis is extremely rare.
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