Kyphoplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure to relieve pain from vertebral compression fractures, affecting the bones from which the spinal column is comprised. This procedure is usually performed on patients whose vertebral fractures have occurred as a result of osteoporosis. For best results, kyphoplasty should be performed within two months of the fracture's occurrence.
The Kyphoplasty Procedure
Before undergoing kyphoplasty, your doctor will perform a physical examination, review your medical history, and order blood tests. Spinal x-rays, MRI, and other imaging tests will be done to verify the existence of vertebral compression fracture that will benefit from kyphoplasty. Be sure to notify your doctor of all medicines you are currently taking, any allergies you may have, and if you are or may be pregnant. Specific instructions regarding eating, drinking, and taking medications will be provided.
Kyphoplasty is performed as outpatient procedure under sedation, although general anesthesia may also be used; therefore, you will need a friend or relative to drive you home afterwards. You will be lying facedown for the duration of the procedure, which lasts around an hour. Once the sedative and/or general anesthesia has taken effect, the skin surrounding your spine will be sterilized and shaved, and a tiny cut will be made in the area. With x-ray assistance, an empty needle known as a trocar will be inserted into the spine until its tip is positioned evenly with the fractured vertebra. A balloon is then inserted though the needle and inflated, reverting the bone to its original shape and creating a cavity. The balloon is then removed and orthopedic cement is injected into the area, filling the cavity. Finally, the trocar is removed, pressure is applied to stop bleeding, and a bandage is placed around the skin.
Recovery from Kyphoplasty
After kyphoplasty, you will remain in recovery for an hour to ensure successful recovery from the anesthesia. For the first 24 hours after the procedure, you should remain in bed, although you may get up to use the bathroom. Regular activities can be resumed shortly afterwards, although heavy lifting and other strenuous activities should be avoided for about six weeks. You may feel soreness on your skin at the site of the needle insertion, although this usually subsides within three days and can be relieved with an ice pack. For the first few days following kyphoplasty, the site of the needle insertion should remain bandaged, even when bathing or showering.
Risks of Kyphoplasty
Kyphoplasty is a safe procedure; however, all procedures carry a slight risk of complications. Although they rarely occur, these risks include infection at the site of the needle insertion, increased back pain, allergic reaction to the contrast material used to visualize the balloon as it lifts the vertebra, and leakage of the orthopedic cement.