Kyphoplasty for Spinal Fractures
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat a painful vertebral compression fracture (VCFs). A VCF is a fracture in the body of a vertebra, which causes it to collapse. In turn, this causes the spinal column above it to develop an abnormal forward curve. VCFs may be caused by osteoporosis (an age-related softening of the bones) or by the spread of tumor to the vertebral body. Kyphoplasty reduces pain and restores height to the collapsed vertebral body.
Balloon Kyphoplasty Procedure
Kyphoplasty involves the use of a device called a balloon tamp to restore the height and shape of the vertebral body. This is followed by application of bone cement to strengthen the vertebra. The procedure is performed with the patient lying face down on the operating room table. An x-ray machine is used to show the collapsed bones and to guide the surgical procedure.
To begin, the neurosurgeon inserts a needle or tube into the center of the vertebral body to the site of the fractured bone. If there is concern that the vertebral body has been affected by tumor or other disease processes, a small bone biopsy can be obtained through the tube. The balloon tamp is then inserted down the tube and inflated. This pushes the bone back to its normal height and shape. Inflation of the balloon creates a cavity in the vertebral body, which the surgeon fills with bone cement. When the cement hardens, the tubes are removed. The skin is closed with a single stitch, and patients usually go home the next day. Patients are able to return to all of their previous activities, and typically do not need any form of physical therapy or rehabilitation.
Kyphoplasty surgery does not prevent severe osteoporosis from causing other fractures at other levels of the spine in the future. All patients must continue to take bone-strengthening medications during treatment. If more vertebrae collapse in the future, kyphoplasty can be used at those other levels.