Kyphoplasty is a very common operation performed in patients that have a fractured vertebrae. We most commonly perform this operation in elderly patients that have fractured a vertebrae in the middle or low back. Patients with osteoporosis are at increased risk of fracturing a bone, most commonly their hip, wrist or back. Osteoporosis is the thinning of the bone structure that often comes with age. The bone becomes brittle and often takes little to no trauma to break. We will either see elderly patients with a fractured vertebrae in the office, emergency room or the hospital. A fractured vertebrae is very painful. We can diagnose the broken bone with an x-ray and often an MRI is necessary. Once we make the diagnosis, we have a few different options. We can treat the fractured back bone non-surgically as these fractures will heal in 2-3 months. We can use a back brace, pain medications and activity restrictions to allow the patient to heal the bone naturally. Unfortunately, many patients have severe debilitating pain despite an attempt to treat the fracture non-surgically.
In these patients, kyphoplasty can be a great option. Kyphoplasty is a minor 20 minute operation performed in the operating room with the patient under general anesthesia. We make 2 very small incisions and essentially perform the entire surgery through 2 medium sized needles. We use special x-ray machines to safely see the bones and perform the minimally invasive surgery. Through the needles we essentially insert a bone glue into the fractured vertebrae which will harden within 5 minutes. This bone glue stabilizes the broken bone. It is this stability that will decrease the patient’s pain. The surgery itself is very safe and it is not painful.
On average, we expect 70-80% improvement in the patient’s pain. In most instances, patients can go home the same day. There are minimal restrictions after this surgery. There are no stitches necessary since the incisions are so small. Kyphoplasty is the most minimally invasive and minor spine surgery we perform and it can be an excellent surgery for those patients that have intractable pain secondary to a fractured vertebrae.