Are there any age limits to a vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedure?

There are no specific age limits for vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.  Many surgeons do not recommend these procedures for young people (under 40) due to the unknown risk of living with plastic in the body for decades. Most of these procedures are done on elderly people with osteoporosis.   People with significant medical diseases and the very elderly are at higher risk of complications, there has even been reports of death during or after these procedures.  The majority of people will have very good results (that is 50-90% reduction in pain).  Please click Kyphoplasty for more information on vertebral compression fractures. Good Luck!

What can I do to prepare for vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

Usually you need to:

1. Stop anti-inflammatories, aspirin, ibuprofen, plavix, warfarin 1 week before surgery.  It is important to stop these medicines because they can cause excess bleeding during surgery.  Unfortunately, they are important to prevent heart attacks and strokes so please check with your primary care doctor or cardiologist before discontinuing these medicines.

2. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.

3. Arrange for a ride to and from the surgery center or hospital and for someone to stay with you afterwards.

For more information on vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty please click Kyphoplasty.  Good Luck!

How can I ease upper back pain?

There are many causes of upper back pain.  The pain may originate from your bones, disks, muscles, joints, nerves and spinal cord, neck, shoulders, lungs and heart.  Most causes of upper back pain I see is from spine fractures, pulled muscles or arthritis.  Initially you may be treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medicine, muscle relaxant and  sometimes pain medicine. If the pain is severe your doctor may take you out of work.  If the pain does not improve or you have neurological problems (weakness, numbness, etc) then you would need a full workup which may include X-rays, MRI and sometimes blood tests.   Further treatment would depends on what is found.

Click Read More for information on treatment options.  Please contact Executive Spine Surgery for more information.  Good Luck!

What are the risks of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are common, safe and helpful procedures, but like any other procedure or medication there are many risks.  Some of the risks are related to fracture, person’s health, anesthesia and procedure.  Fortunately the risk of these procedures are generally low, but risks include death, stroke, heart attack, pneumonia, blood clots in lungs and legs, fat embolus, plastic spreading to the lungs, lung collapse, spinal cord or nerve injury causing pain, numbness, weakness, bowel and bladder incontinence or paralysis, infection, bleeding, but not limited to these complications. People with one fracture are at increased risk of future fractures.

For more information on vertebropasty and kyphoplasty please click on Kyphoplasty.  Good Luck!

I have a large disc protrusion compressing my L5 nerve and causing spinal stenosis. Do I need surgery?

Disc protrusion is when the disk slips out of it’s normal position in between the spinal vertebrae and extends into the spinal canal.   Other commonly used names are bulging disk, slipped disk or herniated disk, etc.  Spinal stenosis is tightness or loss of volume of the spinal canal.

Right L4-5 disk protrusion initially is treated with conservative treatment which may include rest, physical therapy, medications and steroid injections.  Surgery is considered when a patient fails conservative treatment and/or has severe pain, numbness, weakness or neurological dysfunction (such as urinary incontinence).

Today most disk surgery can be done by using extremely minimally invasive surgical techniques called endoscopic spine surgery or laser spine surgery.  This revolutionary same day surgery is done through a tiny tube the size of a pen which is placed into the spine under X-ray guidance.  The disk is found and visualized through the high definition video camera found inside the spine endoscope.   The disk is then removed with tiny little instruments taking pressure off of the nerve.  This usual provides quick relief of pain and suffering.  Often patients feel much better right after surgery.

For more information on sciatica and lumbar disk herniations click on the following link Sciatica.  Good Luck!

What is the difference between vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty are very similar procedures.  Kyphoplasty is a slight variation of vertebroplasty.

In both vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty a large needle is placed into the broken vertebrae under x-ray guidance.  Next plastic is injected into the fractured vertebrae in vertebroplasty, but in Kyphoplasty a ballon is blown up.  The balloon may push the bone back into its original position (that is reduce the fracture).  The balloon is then removed and plastic is injected into the cavity.   Overall they are very similar procedures and have similar outcomes.  Please click on Kyphoplasty for more information.  Good Luck!


What are the results I should expect from a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty?

The results from some clinical studies have been controversial. I have found very good results with vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty if you have recent fracture, back tenderness and acute to subacute (recent) swelling of your fracture on MRI and do not have back nerve or spinal cord compression or instability in the spine. Most people pain improve.  Even though uncommon these procedures may have risks.  Please contact Executive Spine Surgery if you have a vertebral body compression fracture.  Good Luck!

For more information please click Kyphoplasty.

What does degenerative disc disease and no signal abnormality within the cord or enhancement mean?

Degenerative disc disease = “worn out” degenerated disks in your spine

No signal abnormality = spinal cord looks normal, no abnormal signal suggesting disease or damage

No enhancement = the spinal cord is not taking up contrast die.  This would suggest inflammation, infection or cancer

For more information on sciatica please click the blog below.  Please contact Executive Spine Surgery for more information on degenerative disk disease, disk herniations, sciatica and endoscopic spine surgery. Good Luck!

I have a pain in my left butt that goes all the way down my leg. What could that be?

I have a knife pain on right side of mid back that radiates around ribs but I never experience severe abdominal pain.

You may have a thoracic disk herniation with a pinched nerve. You will need an MRI scan of your thoracic spine.  Thoracic disk herniations are uncommon but they can be dangerous especially if they pinch and damage the spinal cord.  Thoracic disk herniations can cause shooting pain around your rib cage and weakness, paralysis or bowel and bladder incontinence.   They are usually treated surgically if there is neurological deficits.  In the past open traditional surgery was the only option to treat thoracic disk herniations.  This was a large operation with significant risk.  Today there are new minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) options for thoracic disk disease including laser discectomy or endoscopic discectomy.

Endoscopic discectomy involves placement of needle into the herniated disk, followed by serial dilation of the soft tissue and placement of an endoscopic port.  The endoscope is then placed through the port to the herniated disk.  The disk is then removed with small cutting and grabbing instruments under direct visualization.  After the disk is removed and the nerve is unpinched the endoscope and tube are removed allowing the soft tissues to fall back together.  Single suture  and dressing is used to close the incision.  The patient is discharged home the same day.

Click Read More to learn about treatment options.  Good Luck!