Kyphoplasty surgery is a procedure done to repair a vertebral compression fracture in the spine. Compression fractures can result when the patient sustains a trauma to the vertebra or if the patient develops the bone disease osteoporosis. Throughout life, bone tissue undergoes cycles of bone growth followed by bone degradation. As men and women get older, bone growth may slow down and bones can become very fragile.
Bone density screening should be done on all patients as they get older. If bone density is low, the patient may be suffering from osteoporosis. Vertebral compression fractures can occur as the patient performs simple activities, such as turning or bending. Body weight alone puts pressure on the round, thick body of the vertebra and can cause a fracture.
These fractures can be very painful and result in a loss of height. Kyphoplasty surgery can be done to repair the fracture and expand the vertebra. The curvature of the spine in the shoulder area is known as kyphosis. By expanding the vertebra, kyphoplasty surgery is meant to correct the angle of the fractured vertebra, thereby reducing the kyphosis.
To diagnose a compression fracture, the surgeon may first order X-rays of the spine. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also give the surgeon a full picture of the fracture and any spinal cord involvement. These tests can be painful for the patient and care must be taken not to aggravate the fracture and make it worse. After examining the X-rays and the MRI, the surgeon will determine if the patient is a candidate for kyphoplasty surgery.
Kyphoplasty surgery can be done as an outpatient procedure with a very limited stay in the hospital. It is a non-invasive procedure and there is no surgical incision, so healing should be shorter than that from an open surgery. The patient must remain absolutely still during the surgery, so the surgeon will need to use a general anesthetic to put the patient to sleep.
A hollow needle known as a trocar is inserted through the skin of the back and into the body of the vertebra. The surgeon then inserts a tiny balloon through the trocar and inflates it to create space in the vertebra and restore it to a normal height. This balloon is deflated and removed and bone cement is then injected into the vertebra. Injection of this cement should stabilize the vertebra and any bone fragments from the fracture.
Many patients experience relief from the pain of the compression fracture after kyphoplasty surgery. There may be some muscle pain around the repaired fracture for a few weeks after surgery. One risk following kyphoplasty surgery is that the repaired fracture could put pressure on the neighboring vertebra and generate another fracture.