A spinal fracture, also known as a vertebral compression fracture, occurs when one of the bones of the spinal column weakens and collapses. Spinal fractures can vary widely in severity. While some fractures are very serious injuries, other fractures can be the result of bones weakened by osteoporosis.
- Sudden onset of back pain
- A fracture of the thoracic or lumbar spine causes moderate to severe back pain that is worsened with movement
- Lying on one’s back makes the pain less intense
- Limited spinal mobility
- Height loss
- Deformity and disability
As a general rule, a compression fracture should be suspected in any patient over the age of 50 with acute onset of back pain. For women, especially those with risk factors for osteoporosis, many physicians believe that a vertebral fracture should be suspected in any women over age 45 with sudden onset of pain.
- Osteoporosis – disease of the bone in which bone density is reduced, potentially increasing the chance that a person could sustain a vertebral compression fracture with little or no trauma.
- Trauma – injury severe enough to cause a vertebra to break can occur with a fall from a tall height in which the person lands on his or her feet or buttocks. It can also occur in a person involved in a car accident.
- Pathological fracture – is a fracture occurring in the vertebra due to a preexisting disease at the fracture site. Most commonly, this type of break is from cancer in the bone, which has often traveled from other sites in the body.
It’s important that spinal fractures are diagnosed and treated by a physician. A physical exam, along with an x-ray, CT and/or MRI can help determine if a spinal fracture has occurred.
Kyphoplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat spinal compression fractures. The goals of Kyphoplasty are to reduce pain from the fracture, stabilize the vertebra, and restore the vertebra back to its normal height.
In the procedure, the patient lies face down on the procedure table. The Interventional Radiologist (IR) makes a small, half-inch incision over the affected area.
Using X-ray guidance, the physician inserts a narrow tube through the pedicle into one side of the fractured vertebra. In balloon kyphoplasty, a balloon tamp is then inserted through the tube and into the fractured vertebra.
Once inside the vertebra, the balloon tamp is inflated to create an open cavity inside the bone and to restore height to the collapsed vertebra. The physician then deflates and removes the balloon tamp from the vertebra, leaving the new bone cavity behind.
A pasty compound, a type of bone cement, is injected into the cavity until it is full. The cement hardens quickly, creating an internal cast inside of the fractured vertebra.
The process may be repeated on the other side of the vertebral body to ensure uniformity and increase the chances of complete deformity correction.
The patient stays on the procedure table while the cement hardens, which usually takes about 5 minutes.
- Pain reduction
- No overnight stays in the hospital
- Cost-effective compared to having the procedure done in the hospital
How long does the procedure take?
We typically schedule patients to be at our center for two (2) hours total. We must allow time for getting you ready for surgery and time for recovery. Each additional level will add roughly 30 minutes to the procedure.
How will I feel during the procedure?
During the procedure, the physician and staff will work to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. A combination of a local anesthetic and conscious sedation are used during the procedure to accomplish this goal.
What can I expect after the procedure?
It is possible you will be a bit sore at the location of your fractures; however, most patients feel reduced pain within hours of the procedure.
Will my insurance cover my procedure?
Yes. Our staff works to make sure that all referrals and pre-authorizations are in place for your consult and procedure prior to your first visit.