Dr. Dan Albright, an orthopedic surgeon in Raleigh, North Carolina discusses kyphoplasty and how it is used to relieve back pain from a spinal fracture.
For more information, contact Dr. Dan Albright at 919-863-6808.
Summary of video:
When do you do Kyphoplasty surgery for spine fractures?
Kyphoplasty surgery is also called vertebroplasty surgery and is a procedure that places cement into a broken vertebra bone in the spine. It is almost always done on elderly patients with osteoporosis, sometimes cancer patients.
What is osteoporosis? The word osteoporosis is “osteo” which is bone and “porosis” which is porous which means holes in the bone. This means thinner bones. When there’s less bone, it breaks easier. That is certainly true for the hip and the femur, also it can effect the spine and the wrist as you age.
Good cancellous bone in the spine and the vertebrae looks more solid (as seen in the model used in the video). Osteoporotic bone has more holes. It is more porous. When you have developed osteoporotic bone just a turn over in your bed can break your back. When a patient is in their 70’s to 90’s and have bad osteoporosis, it does not take much to fracture the spine, but it is rarely serious. It hurts, but does not paralyze, it just hurts for a month or two while the fracture heals. In most cases the patient heals fine, but several years ago surgeons started doing kyphoplasties.
A vertebrae is supposed to be a rectangle. With a fracture, one side is usually compressed. It’s a wedge fracture turning that rectangle into a triangle. The kyphoplasty procedure is performed in an operating room. The patient is awake, but are numb in the area where the procedure will be performed. The surgeon makes two, one-quarter inch incisions and inserts a balloon. The surgeon uses a small, straw-like tube to insert into the vertebrae. The balloon is narrow, and is blown up in the bone. The balloons expand the bone and they make room for cement. The cement is squirted in through the tube using x-ray for locating the precise spot it is needed. The balloon is then removed through another tube.
The procedure takes about 20 minutes. The patient goes home an hour after surgery. It is almost the only thing surgeons can do that cures back pain immediately. Patients wake up and their fracture pain is gone because now there is cement in the broken bone. The bone is strong again.
There’s good science, good research for kyphoplasties and vertebroplasties. Surgeons highly recommend cement in a broken bone if the patient is not healing. That usually means waiting approximately a month after the initial fracture. Most people usually on their own in a month.