What is Kyphoplasty?

As a spine surgeon, Dr. Braxton performs kyphoplasty for patients who have sustained a compression fracture in the spine. Kyphoplasty is often conducted in tandem with vertebroplasty. A compression fracture of one or more of the vertebrae may be caused by trauma or it can be caused by osteoporosis. Patients with a compression fracture experience pain, in some cases, severe pain and decreased mobility stemming from the fracture. Bone fragments from the fracture can rub and grate together causing further damage and pain. The kyphoplasty procedure cleans out the space created by the fracture; then medical balloon technology is inflated into the fracture in order to:

  • Maximize the preparation process within the fracture
  • Optimize the degenerated disc space in preparation for the vertebroplasty
  • Normalize the position and elevation of the fractured bone

Once the fracture cavity is prepared, the balloon is removed and a cement-like material is injected into the fracture cavity. The material, called polymethylmethacrylate, cures quickly and becomes hard providing stability to the vertebrae.

Kyphoplasty or Vertebroplasty?

Both kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are procedures used in the repair of vertebral compression fractures. Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are both used during compression repair. First, the kyphoplasty is performed to prepare the fracture for the repair. Next, the vertebroplasty is performed to complete the repair to the the fracture. The two procedures are normally done in tandem and are rarely performed separately. The two components of vertebrae compression fracture surgery are not in competition, rather teammates, working together to achieve the same goal: pain relief and restored vertebrae health.

How to Perform a Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a unique procedure that uses medical balloon technology. It is a minimally invasive surgery conducted under local or general anesthesia. Small incisions are made and the fracture is located by probe. The damaged vertebrae is drilled and a balloon, called a balloon tamp, is placed on each side. The balloon tamp is inflated until it expands the fracture cavity to the desired height and fullness. This void within the bony structure is then treated by vertebroplasty and stability is provided to the fracture zone. Once complete, patients begin to experience relief from fracture pain. Kyphoplasty takes around one hour for each vertebrae being treated.

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What is the Recovery Like After Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical technique that may be conducted under local or general anesthesia. This supports a relatively quick recovery from pain and immobility. Patients experience many benefits from this procedure including:

  • A brief surgical time
  • Reduced exposure to anesthesia, whether general or local
  • One day or less in the hospital
  • No requirement for back brace
  • A quick return to preferred activity and lifestyle

Patients commonly spend less than one day in the hospital and can be released once post-surgery milestones occur including basic movement such as walking, sitting and standing. Pain management continues post release. Dr. Braxton will closely monitor patient progress and prescribe a light walking program to increase gradually along with physical therapy after the initial recovery period. He will guide patients on when to return to work and how soon to drive. Normal daily activities can begin as patients choose but lifting heavy items should be avoided up to six weeks.

How Long Does Kyphoplasty Last?

The great majority of kyphoplasty patients experience no further compression fracture to the level treated and they experience a permanent benefit from the kyphoplasty surgery. The reduction of pain reported by patients is also significant. Studies show this pain reduction is sustained over time.

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