Fractures or 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.
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 nausea and 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.
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:
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:
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.