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Kyphoplasty (Vertebral Compression Fractures)

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine


Kyphoplasty (Vertebral Compression Fractures)

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
Though accidents and tumors can cause vertebral compression fractures, the most common cause is osteoporosis, a condition in which reduced bone density weakens the vertebrae and makes it susceptible to breaking with minimal or no trauma. The bone simply collapses in on itself and may not cause any symptoms. Compression fractures are often discovered while doing spine X-rays for other reasons.

Kyphoplasty, sometimes called balloon kyphoplasty, is a minimally invasive procedure that restores bone height and strength. The patient lies face-down on the operating table. The surgeon will make a small incision in the back over the affected vertebrae and insert a narrow tube that is guided by a fluoroscope, a type of X-ray device that sends images of the spine to a screen.

Using the images to guide him the doctor sends a surgical balloon through the tube into the affected vertebrae. He will slowly inflate the balloon until the collapsed vertebrae has returned to a more normal size and shape. The balloon also serves to create a cavity by compacting the soft tissue within the vertebrae, which he will soon fill with surgical cement. After the balloon is removed the surgeon fills the cavity with cement known as polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). The cement hardens quickly and stabilizes the bone.

The procedure takes about one hour for each vertebrae that requires treatment. Some patients experience immediate pain relief while others may take a few days but overall the success rate for kyphoplasty is high. Kyphoplasty should be performed within eight weeks of the fracture for the greatest chance of success. Possible complications the patient may experience are nerve damage, spinal cord injury, allergic reactions to solutions used during surgery, and leakage of the PMMA into the spinal canal. Those who have required treatment for compression fractures caused by osteoporosis are at a greater risk for future fractures and should take measures to prevent further bone loss.

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