Performed to aid in correcting vertebral fractures and kyphosis, kyphoplasty is a procedure that injects bone cement percutaneously into a fractured vertebra.
What is a Kyphoplasty?
- Helps correct vertebral fractures that cause pain and kyphosis, or a roundback over-curvature of the thoracic (middle) back.
- Bone cement is injected into the fractured vertebra through a small hole in the back to stabilize the vertebrae and restore spinal height due to kyphosis.
- Vertebral fractures are also called osteoporosis fractures and primarily affect women in their late 50s.
- Kyphoplasty is a 15 minute minimally-invasive procedure.
Kyphoplasty is a procedure that alleviates the pain caused by a compression spinal fracture in patients with osteoporosis. To fill in the fracture, bone cement is injected directly into the affected vertebrae through the skin in a small hole on the back. The procedure also intends to stabilize the bone, correct the over-curvature caused by kyphosis, and regain some or all of the lost spine height caused from the compression spinal fracture
This procedure is primarily performed on women in their late 50s or older with osteoporosis, a disease that thins bones and makes them brittle. When bones thin, they are more susceptible to fractures, especially in the middle part of the back where a lot of stability issues occur.
Spinal fractures, also known as an osteoporosis fracture or a vertebral fracture, can cause kyphosis, in which all or part of the vertebral bone collapses. Kyphosis also causes an over-curvature or a "hump" appearance to the thoracic (middle) back. The collapsing of the vertebral bone, along with the over-curvature of the spine, may cause pain of varying strength that is dull, sharp, deep, or throbbing. Pain from one or more vertebral fractures and kyphosis may be debilitating and severe and may affect the patient's quality of life.
Kyphoplasty is a quick 15 minute procedure that is minimally-invasive. The procedure is mostly performed on women because osteoporosis generally affects women much more than men. Although there is significant need for this procedure among specific patients, Medicare is the only insurance that covers it.
What does it treat?
- Complications from Osteoporosis
- Compression spinal vertebra fracture
- Weakened vertebrae
- Unstable spine
Who are good candidates?
Kyphoplasty is primarily performed on patients who experience varying strengths of pain and other debilitating symptoms from a compression spinal vertebra fracture. Ideal candidates should have pain for 3 months or more that does not get better with conservative methods of treatment and should experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Chronic pain in the back that is dull, sharp, deep, and/or throbbing
- Pain that is debilitating or affects the patient's quality of life
- Weakness or numbness due to the pain
- Curvature of the back that appears like a "hump" or roundback
- Trouble standing, walking, or sitting
- History of attempting conservative methods of treatment that have failed to relieve pain or help with healing the fracture
Ideal candidates for kyphoplasty should be aware of any possible physical therapy as part of the recovery process, and should be optimistic towards pain improvement and management.
What is the procedure like?
Kyphoplasty takes less than an hour (about 15 minutes) to complete. Patients are under local or general anesthesia during the procedure.
The following are the general steps of a kyphoplasty:
- The patient lies on their stomach to expose the back. A very small hole-like incision is made in the back where the tube will be placed.
- A tube is inserted for the path where bone cement will be injected into. Using the help of real-time X-ray imaging, a needle is guided through the skin and into the affected spinal vertebra.
- A balloon is placed through the needle and into the bone, and then inflated, which restores the spinal height.
- Bone cement is then injected into the inflated space.
- The surgeon removes the tubing once satisfied, and then closes the incision with sutures.