What is Balloon Kyphoplasty?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Balloon kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure that is used to treat fractures of the spine. The surgeon may recommend performing it on either an inpatient or outpatient basis, which means that the patient does not necessarily require a hospital stay to recover. This operation typically addresses a specific type of fracture, called a vertebral compression fracture.

A vertebral compression fracture is a literal collapse of the vertebral bone in a person's spine. One or more vertebrae may collapse in this condition. It often occurs as a result of a physical trauma to the area, which may be sustained in a fall, car accident, or similar event. It may also be a result of osteoporosis, which is a condition in which the bone loses density and becomes weak. Vertebral compression fractures may also be caused by tumors in the area, which can compress the bone.

These fractures can cause back pain and may interfere with a patient's mobility. A balloon kyphoplasty can ease this pain and help patients return to their usual routines. This procedure is known as a minimally invasive surgery. This means that it only requires a small incision in the back, and miniature instruments are used to repair the damage. Patients who undergo a minimal procedure typically have a much shorter recovery time than they would from other types of operations.

To prepare for a balloon kyphoplasty, patients should discuss all their medications and herbal supplements with their doctors. They may need to discontinue certain ones prior to the surgery, such as those that might interfere with blood clotting. Patients should also discuss any other medical conditions they have, like whether they have had negative reactions to anesthesia in the past. Due to the fact that a patient will be unconscious during the surgery, another person should drive him home following the procedure.

The balloon kyphoplasty itself usually takes about one hour to complete, unless there are multiple fractures. A small incision is made, through which the surgeon inserts a small instrument called a cannula. This transports a balloon into the compressed vertebra. Once it is in the proper position, the surgeon inflates the balloon. This inflation causes the vertebra to rise back up into the proper place.

After the vertebra is restored, the balloon is deflated. The surgeon then slides the balloon back up the cannula. In its place, a material called bone cement is injected into the void in the vertebra. This supports the vertebra and prevents a re-collapse.

Before undergoing a balloon kyphoplasty, patients should be aware of the potential risks. They may experience a reaction to the anesthesia. It is also possible that complications, like stroke or heart attack, may occur. Sometimes, the bone cement leaks, which can cause an injury to the spinal cord. Barring any complications, patients are typically released from the hospital within 24 hours of the procedure.

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