Fracturesor breaks in one of your vertebrae are never fun. It's a painful experience and can really limit your range of motion. On top of that, breaks or fractures in your vertebrae almost always require surgery, such as kyphoplasty. Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure typically performed in conjunction with another procedure known as vertebroplasty. During a vertebroplasty procedure, your doctor injects a cement-like mixture into your injured vertebrae to strengthen it. Before performing a vertebroplasty, though, your doctor must first make room for the cement mixture. This is where the kyphoplasty procedure comes in.
During a kyphoplasty, your doctor inserts a balloon into the space and inflates it to create room for the cement-like mixture. Once your doctor injects the mixture, he or she will remove the balloon as well. The procedure itself helps improve overall mobility and relieve pain.
Indications for Kyphoplasty
Typically, kyphoplasty benefits patients whose bones have weakened from cancer or other bone conditions, including osteoporosis. However, it's important to note that this procedure isn't recommended if you have herniated disks, spinal curvature, or back arthritis. It also isn't a preventive measure against fractures. Additionally, if you're younger or are otherwise healthy, your doctor may recommend a different treatment option for your condition because the long term effects of the bone cement are unclear. That said, typically older patients are the ones that benefit from kyphoplasty.
Prior to your kyphoplasty, your doctor may order a few tests to help see the area in need of repair, including an MRI, X-ray, and blood tests. On the day of your procedure, your doctor or nurse will hook you with to an IV to deliver anesthesia, and you may receive anti-nausea, pain medications, and antibiotics as well to help ward off nauseaand infection. Additionally, your medical team may connect you to a variety of different monitors to track your blood pressure, pulse, and heart rate throughout the procedure.
Kyphoplasty: During the Procedure
During the procedure, you lie on your stomach. If necessary, a member of your medical team will shave the area where your doctor will insert the needle. From there, your doctor cleans and sterilizes the area before injecting a local anesthetic. Once your doctor makes all the necessary preparations, he or she performs the procedure by doing the following:
- He or she will insert a hollow needle through your skin and muscle until it hits the bone.
- He or she will insert an inflatable balloon into the hollow needle.
- He or she will inflate the balloon to create the necessary space for the bone cement.
- He or she will inject the cement-like mixture into the space, using imaging tests to ensure the mixture properly distributes before removing the needle.
- He or she will bandage the area and a member of your medical team will remove any IVs and monitoring equipment.
Typically, a kyphoplasty procedure only lasts an hour or so.
After the procedure, your doctor may keep you in a recovery room for a short while, during which your nurses may encourage you to walk around. You may experience mild soreness, but other than that post-procedure symptoms are usually minimal. In some cases, though, you may have to stay overnight for monitoring if:
- Your procedure had complications
- You're in poor health
- More than one vertebra received treatment during the procedure
During your recovery period, your doctor will also schedule a follow-up visit to monitor your progress and ensure the kyphoplasty is working as it should.
Once at home, your doctor may recommend treating any pain or soreness with ice packs and over-the-counter pain medications.