Kyphoplasty is a procedure used to treat a painful compression fracture of the spine, generally caused by osteoporosis. Once the vertebra breaks, bone fragments develop and slide or rub against each other or protrude into the spinal canal, nerve roots, or spinal cord, causing pain or weakness.
A kyphoplasty is performed by using image guidance to insert a hollow needle through the skin into the vertebral body, after which a cement mixture is injected into the vertebra following augmentation with a balloon-like device or mechanical implant. This enables height to be restored, spinopelvic alignment to be improved, abnormal force on the adjacent disc to be reduced, future fracture risk to be mitigated, and pain to be relieved.
Do spinal compression fractures heal naturally?
Vertebral fractures are the most common osteoporotic fracture, yet approximately two-thirds are undiagnosed or untreated. In addition to back pain, spinal compression fractures can cause spinal deformity, reduced mobility and increased number of days in bed and in the hospital. Some treatments prescribed for spinal compression fractures include bed rest, physical therapy and bracing. Opioids are often prescribed for pain relief profoundly impacting the quality of life.
One of many reasons to treat a compression fracture rather than mask the pain with narcotics was highlighted in a meta-analysis that involved over 2 million patients. The research showed a 22% mortality reduction with vertebral augmentation (kyphoplasty) over nonsurgical management. In addition, after kyphoplasty, about 75 percent of patients regain lost mobility and become more active, which helps combat osteoporosis and many who had been immobile prior to the procedure are able to get out of bed, reducing the risk of pneumonia, clots, and constipation.
What kind of doctor performs kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is generally performed by an Interventional Radiologist / Interventional Spine Specialist, in an image guided surgery suite.
At Windsong’s Interventional and Vascular clinic the image-guided, minimally invasive procedures such as kyphoplasty are performed by our subspecialty fellowship trained Interventional Radiologists in the fully accredited outpatient Ambulatory Surgery Facility at 55 Spindrift Drive in Williamsville.
How long does it take to recover from kyphoplasty?
A kyphoplasty is completed within one hour.
Real-time x-rays (fluoroscopy) and/or cone beam CT is performed during the procedure for continuous visualization of the spine and the treatment, allowing for the minimally invasive procedure to be performed without large incisions, sutures, or post-operative hospitalization or bedrest.
Patients generally have improved pain and improved mobility within 1-3 days after the procedure.
A modified form of this procedure is also performed for patients with spinal compression fractures caused by cancer, which can be extremely painful and debilitating. While the cancer may be treated by chemotherapy and radiation therapy, kyphoplasty with targeted tumor ablation provides rapid pain relief, within days, rather than months.
Although traumatic fractures, such as those caused by car accidents or high velocity falls, are less common than osteoporotic fractures, long-term outcomes are better with directed treatment of the fracture than with bracing and bed rest.
Contact Windsong Today
If you have back pain caused by a compression fracture, it should be assessed by imaging and physical examination as soon as possible by a spine specialist that is experienced in vertebral augmentation / kyphoplasty. This is a safe and effective treatment for lumbar and thoracic fractures, but the outcomes are best when treatment is not delayed.
For more information about kyphoplasty and the various treatments of compression fractures, as well as fracture prevention, request an appointment or call 716.929.9484.