Spine Care: Treatment Options
|Normal Vertebrae||Fractured Vertebrae||Balloon Kyphoplasty|
The Condition: Spinal Fractures
Osteoporosis causes more than 700,000 spinal fractures each year in the United States. This is more than twice the annual number of hip fracture cases, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Spinal fractures can also be caused by cancer, the most common being multiple myeloma. According to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, in the majority of patients with multiple myeloma, osteolytic lesions develop which weaken the bone, causing pain and increasing the risk of fractures.
Some spinal fractures may collapse acutely while others collapse progressively over time. If left untreated, one fracture can lead to subsequent fractures, often resulting in a condition called kyphosis. Kyphosis is signified by the “dowager’s hump”, or rounded back. Kyphosis compresses the chest and abdominal cavity with many potential health consequences.
Balloon Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive, orthopedic treatment that stabilizes the fracture, thereby reducing the pain and correcting the deformity, when possible. Studies also report the following benefits:
- Correction of vertebral body deformity
- Significant reduction in back pain
- Significant improvement in quality of life
- Significant improvement in ability to perform activities of daily living, such as walking, hobbies, and work
- Significant reduction in number of days per month that a patient remains in bed; most patients experience a 100% reduction in days in bed one month post-surgery.
- Significant improvement in mobility.
- Low complication rate.
About the Procedure
The surgeon creates a small pathway into the fractured bone. A small, orthopedic balloon is guided through the instrument into the vertebra. The incision site is approximately 1 cm in length.
Next the balloon is carefully inflated in an attempt to raise the collapsed vertebra and return it to its normal position. Once the vertebra is in the correct position, the balloon is deflated and removed. This process creates a void (cavity) within the vertebral body.
The cavity is filled with a bone cement to support the surrounding bone and prevent further collapse.
The cement forms an internal cast that holds the vertebra in place. Generally, the procedure is done on both sides of the vertebral body.
Balloon Kyphoplasty typically takes one hour per fracture and may require an overnight hospital stay. The procedure can be done using either local or general anesthesia; the surgeon will determine the most appropriate method, based on the patient’s overall condition.
In most cases, Medicare provides coverage for Balloon Kyphoplasty. Other insurance plans may also cover the procedure.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved with Balloon Kyphoplasty. Patients are encouraged to discuss any potential risks with their physician.