Kyphoplasty

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Kyphoplasty Procedure

What is Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure that is performed to treat compression fractures of the vertebrae. Compression fractures occur when bones that have become a thin, brittle and fragile collapse. Compression fractures of the spine can be very painful. Kyphoplasty procedure is also sometimes called “balloon kyphoplasty.” 

Since this is a surgical procedure, it is performed in an outpatient surgical clinic or in a hospital. Kyphoplasty procedure can be completed using either general or local anesthesia. If you are given general anesthesia, you will be asleep during the procedure and will not experience any pain. If local anesthesia is used, you will most likely be given medication to help you relax and the surgical area will be temporarily be deadened so you will be comfortable throughout the operation.

During the operation, the surgeon will use imaging equipment to guide the placement of a needle through your skin and into the bone that is damaged. A balloon with then is threaded through the needle and inflated in the bone. The inflated balloon restores the vertebra to its correct height. Special surgical cement is then injected to ensure the bone will not collapse again.     

Reasons for Kyphoplasty Procedure

Osteoporosis, a condition that causes the bones to become thin and brittle, is one of the most common reasons compression fractures occur. Kyphoplasty procedure may be recommended by your physician if you have had pain that is severe and is preventing you from going about your routine tasks of daily living for at least two months, and has not gotten better despite treatments such as physical therapy, pain medications, and bed rest.

Kyphoplasty procedure is also recommended by physicians under other circumstances. These may include: 

  • Painful fractures of the spine that are due to cancer. This also includes multiple myeloma,
  • Fractured vertebrae due to injuries.

Potential Risks

Kyphoplasty procedure is generally considered to be a safe procedure. All surgical procedures carry the risk of certain complications such as:

  • Bleeding: Make sure to inform your doctor before your procedure of all the medications you are currently taking. Non-prescription (over-the-counter) and herbal medications as well as prescription drugs.
  • Infection: You will be given instructions on how to care for your operative site before leaving the hospital or outpatient clinic. Be sure you or your caregivers wash their hands thoroughly before performing any dressing changes or other care to your wound or incision. If the site becomes red, swollen, warm to touch or more painful, notify your doctor.
  • Allergic reactions to medicines: Make sure to inform your physician of any allergies prior to surgery
  • Breathing or heart problems if you have general anesthesia: Make sure your surgeon knows your medical history, and have a pre-op exam prior to your procedure.
  • Leakage of the bone cement into surrounding area: If this affects the nerves or the spine, it can cause pain. It can also lead to the need for further procedures to take out the cement. Report any redness or swelling around the surgical site, an elevated fever or increased pain to your physician.

Useful Advice

Before Kyphoplasty Procedure

Before your kyphoplasty procedure, talk to your surgeon about:

  • Any pre-op lab tests or examinations that may be needed.
  • What medications you are currently taking. This includes prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and any herbal drugs or supplements
  • Any allergies you may have
  • If you have ever had any kind of reaction to anesthesia or sedation

In the days before your kyphoplasty procedure:

  • You may need to stop taking certain medications that affect blood clotting. This can include prescription as well as non-prescription drugs.
  • Arrange for transportation to and from the hospital or surgery center. You will most likely not be allowed to drive yourself home following the procedure.
  • Find out from your surgeon which medications you should take on the day of your procedure if you have not already been instructed in this.

On the day of your kyphoplasty procedure:

  • You will probably be instructed to not eat or drink anything prior to your procedure, other than a small drink of water with the medications you were instructed to take.
  • Be sure you have a driver to take you home after your surgery.
  • You will be instructed when to arrive at the hospital or surgery center by your surgeon or a nurse.

After Kyphoplasty Procedure

Usually, it is not necessary to stay at the hospital overnight following kyphoplasty procedure. After you are awake and your condition is stable, you will probably be allowed to leave, but you will need someone to drive you. You should not drive on the day of surgery.

  • Plan to rest for at least the first 24 hours after your operation. Avoid the temptation to be up and around, except to walk to the bathroom and back.
  • Within 24 hours after surgery, you can slowly resume your normal activities, but you will not be able to do any strenuous activity or heavy lifting for several weeks.
  • The area where the needle was inserted in your back may be tender. Applying ice to the area usually helps relieve this pain.

The outcome of the Surgery

Kyphoplasty procedure, or “balloon kyphoplasty” typically results in an improved quality of life for the patient, mostly related to a significant reduction in pain and improved mobility.

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