Kyphoplasty 101: What You Need to Know

You’ve been dealing with back pain for a while. Maybe it started after an injury or incident, or maybe you woke up with it. You finally go see a doctor. They tell you you’ve been walking around with a broken bone in your spine for all this time.

That scenario isn’t as rare as you might think. In fact, around 750,000 people every year get these types of fractures, called vertebral compression fractures.

If you’re one of them, you might find that kyphoplasty is a treatment option. What does that mean? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure. Its purpose is to stabilize vertebrae, or bones in your spine, that have compression fractures. Stabilizing the vertebrae ends or reduces the pain you’re feeling from the fractured bone moving around.

On top of stabilizing the fracture, kyphoplasty also restores the height of the collapsed vertebra. A compression fracture causes a vertebra to collapse in on itself. This is often the reason an older person develops a rounded back.

How Does Kyphoplasty Work?

Kyphoplasty is a unique and advanced surgery. While you’re under anesthesia, your surgeon makes a tiny incision and places a hollow needle into the center of your broken vertebra.

First, the surgeon uses the hollow needle to insert a medical balloon into the broken vertebra. They’ll inflate the balloon, which creates a gap in the middle of the bone and restores the vertebra to its original height or near the original height.

Next, the surgeon removes the balloon and fills in the gap with a type of bone cement. The bone cement hardens and stabilizes the bone in place at its restored height.

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgery that uses such a small incision that you can expect little scarring. It’s often performed as an outpatient procedure. In other words, you’re likely to be able to go home the day of the surgery instead of staying in the hospital.

How is Kyphoplasty Different from Vertebroplasty?

As your doctor discusses the options to treat your compression fracture, you may also hear the term “vertebroplasty.” What’s the difference between vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

These surgeries are similar because they both aim to stabilize a compression fracture. The difference lies in that height restoration kyphoplasty offers.

During vertebroplasty, the surgeon skips the step of using a balloon to heighten the vertebra. Instead, they inject the bone cement into the vertebra as it is. You get the stabilizing effect but not the restored height.

As an added bonus, kyphoplasty has a lower risk. A rare but possible complication in vertebroplasty is the bone cement leaking into the space around your spinal cord or elsewhere.

With kyphoplasty, your surgeon uses a thicker, less runny form of the bone cement. This lowers the risk of leakage.

While kyphoplasty has its benefits, vertebroplasty is best under certain circumstances. It’s all a matter of your unique condition and which option will give you the best results with the lowest risk.

When Will I See the Results of My Kyphoplasty?

One of the best benefits of kyphoplasty is that the stabilization takes away most or all of the fracture pain. Many people feel the relief right away, while it takes a day or two for others.

It’s important to recognize that while you can expect less fracture pain, you will have some post-surgical pain as you heal. Still, the recovery time for kyphoplasty tends to be minimal.

Most people are back to work and their other daily activities a few days after kyphoplasty. You will, however, need to avoid heavy lifting for a few weeks.

Each case is unique depending on your healing rate, the number of vertebrae your surgeon treated, and other factors. Your surgeon will give you more specific details about the recovery you can expect.

Is There a Way to Prevent Future Compression Fractures?

As much of a relief as it can be to get pain relief from kyphoplasty, it isn’t the end of the journey. It’s important to find out why your compression fracture happened in the first place.

Sometimes a fall or injury will cause a compression fracture. In many cases, though, it isn’t the only factor. Compression fractures may be a sign of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a chronic condition that weakens your bones. It’s more common in women but it happens to men as well. While it often happens as people get older, it can begin at any age.

In addition to your kyphoplasty, you may need to work with a doctor who specializes in osteoporosis. They can evaluate your condition and develop a treatment plan to strengthen your bones. If you follow their instructions, you’ll lower your risk of future fractures.

Am I a Candidate for Kyphoplasty?

As with any medical procedure, kyphoplasty is designed to treat a specific condition. It’s only an option for people whose back pain is caused by one or more vertebral compression fractures.

Not all compression fractures are compatible with kyphoplasty. The surgery is most common for fractures that change the shape of your back.

Kyphoplasty is also most successful for new compression fractures. Your surgeon will be able to take images of your spine to find out it kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty, or other options are best suited to your condition.

Your Next Steps for Kyphoplasty

The idea of surgery can be intimidating, even when the surgery is outpatient and minimally invasive. Still, kyphoplasty has brought relief to patients who thought they’d spend the rest of their lives in pain.

If you’re dealing with a compression fracture and you’ve been told it was untreatable, or if you have undiagnosed back pain, we may be able to help. Schedule your appointment to get answers about your pain and find out your treatment options.

What is Kyphoplasty

What is Kyphoplasty? What You Need to Know About This Minimally Invasive Treatment

We live in a fantastic time in which medical technology is moving at the speed of light. As many new advancements as the general public hear about, we as physicians learn about so many more.

One of the most innovative and helpful procedures technology has helped us create is kyphoplasty. If you’re not in the spinal surgery field, you may be asking, “What is kyphoplasty?” You aren’t alone, but I’m here to help with all the details you need to know about this minimally invasive surgery.

What is Kyphoplasty and What Does Kyphoplasty Treat?

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that treats spinal compression fractures.

A compression fracture happens when a bone is under too much pressure. With time, the bone can’t take the stress and it cracks. While it happens in the back, a compression fracture tends to be extremely painful.

Spinal compression fractures are most common among osteoporosis patients. These patients are losing bone mass and bone strength, so compression fractures can happen more easily.

Unfortunately, we can’t stabilize a compression fracture in a vertebra the same way you use a cast to stabilize a broken arm. Kyphoplasty, however, is a procedure that stabilizes the fractured vertebra. This relieves pain, allows the vertebra to heal, and restores the shape of the vertebra.

How Does Kyphoplasty Work?

Kyphoplasty is unique because it’s a minimally invasive spinal surgery. Traditional spinal surgery is notorious for its long and painful recovery time. For many patients with vertebral compression fractures, kyphoplasty is a more manageable alternative.

While it is minimally invasive, this procedure is still a surgery. However, it’s often done under local anesthesia instead of general anesthesia. This means that you’ll be awake during the surgery, but you won’t feel any pain.

Local anesthesia alone provides a strong benefit. When you go under general anesthesia, you need a breathing tube and other measures. It gives your body much more to recover from, so your healing period is longer. Local anesthesia takes away this element of your surgery.

The Kyphoplasty Procedure

The entire kyphoplasty procedure only takes about 30-45 minutes. This can vary based on how many vertebrae are fractured.

You’ll lay face-down on the operating table. After your anesthesia takes effect, the surgeon will make an incision near the fractured vertebra. The incision is only half an inch long, so scarring is minimal.

Through this incision, the surgeon will insert a tiny tube into the center of the fractured vertebra. This tube contains a small medical balloon. Your surgeon will inflate this balloon inside the fractured vertebra to create a cavity that restores the bone’s size and shape.

After the cavity is created, the surgeon deflates and removes the balloon. The surgeon immediately injects a specialized solution called PMMA into the bone. Think of PMMA as a concrete designed for bones.

The PMMA fills the new cavity and hardens within about five minutes. This stabilizes the vertebra’s restored shape and relieves the pain of the fracture. After the PMMA has hardened, your procedure is over.

Keep in mind that there are a few different ways to perform kyphoplasty. While a balloon is a common method, some surgeons use specialized nets or balls instead. It may depend on the best method for your unique fracture.

What Can I Expect After My Kyphoplasty Procedure?

Understandably, one of the most common questions about spinal surgery is, “How long will my recovery take?” Fortunately, kyphoplasty is known for its short recovery time.

Most patients can go home the same day as their procedure. However, some will need to stay in the hospital overnight. It depends on the number of vertebrae your surgery treated, your general health, and any complications from your surgery.

While you will have some pain in the surgery area at first, you can expect to start feeling better within two days. Every patient’s healing speed varies, though, so your surgeon can give you a better idea of what to expect.

Your timeline for returning to work and your other daily activities will depend on your job and your healing rate. Keep in mind that you will need to wait for several weeks before you can resume an exercise program.

After surgery, your surgeon will give you detailed instructions about your recovery period. These instructions are tailored to your specific needs, so follow them closely.

How Do I Know if I’m a Candidate for Kyphoplasty?

As with any other medical procedure, kyphoplasty is only successful in the right patients. Your eligibility will depend on your specific type of compression fracture.

As a result, the only way to know if you’re a candidate is to visit a spinal surgeon. The surgeon’s office can either perform x-rays or refer you to an x-ray center to determine if you’re a candidate.

Not everyone with a compression fracture knows that this is the cause of their pain. If you have back pain, it’s important to see a doctor for a diagnosis before trying to seek treatment.

Will Health Insurance Cover My Kyphoplasty?

In many cases, health insurance covers kyphoplasty. The key is that they need to recognize that it is medically necessary in your case. This depends on your documentation like x-rays and your surgeon’s assessment.

The Next Steps for Kyphoplasty

Now you have answers to your questions like “What is kyphoplasty,” “How long does it take to recover from kyphoplasty,” and more. So what’s the next step?

If you have a vertebra with a compression fracture, kyphoplasty may be the best option. To find out, contact Dr. Carl Spivak for a consultation. He’ll be able to determine if you’re a candidate for kyphoplasty or if another form of treatment will work better.

If you have unidentified back pain, you can also schedule an appointment with Dr. Spivak. He can discuss your symptoms and guide you through the tests to accurately diagnose your condition and determine your treatment options.

vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty

What’s the Difference Between Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?

Have you been diagnosed with a compression fracture within your vertebra?

If so, you’re likely tired of dealing with limited mobility and sometimes extreme pain as a result.

However, we also understand that you’re nervous about the possibility of having to undergo a major surgery to correct the problem.

The good news?

Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures with a high success rate of healing fractures in the vertebra.

But what is the difference between the two, and which one is likely the best option for you?

Read on to learn more about kyphoplasty vs vertebroplasty, and where you can go to find the help you need.

Understanding the Vertebroplasty Procedure

The first thing you need to know about the vertebroplasty procedure?

You’ll be awake — although heavily sedated — throughout the process.

Like kyphoplasty, this procedure us designed to help you to overcome compression fractures in your spine and back.

However, the vertebra in your back won’t actually be moved or repositioned. Usually, your body will be physically manipulated while you’re on the table to put you in the best position for the upcoming injection.

You’ll be face down, and a tiny needle will be put in your vertebra. (Of course, you won’t be able to feel it!) Next, a type of cement is pushed into the area where the fracture is located within the vertebra.

It should take about 15 minutes for the cement to completely dry. Once the drying process is complete, your vertebra will be stabilized.

Usually, you’ll need to stay on your back for a full hour afterward, and will likely be prescribed bed rest immediately afterward.

Vertebroplasty Risks

Of course, like any procedure, vertebroplasty is not without risk.

The good news is that these risks rarely occur. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins, there are only complications about 1-3% of the time.

You may experience issues like a loss of blood, hemorrhaging, a slight fever, or even problems with wet cement flowing to other parts of the body.

You should also expect to experience a fair amount of discomfort immediately after the procedure is finished.

This should lessen over the days following the procedure, and should be gone within about a week. If the pain is severe or persists, make sure that you get in touch with your doctor as soon as you can.

Understanding Kyphoplasty

If you’re not eligible for vertebroplasty, or if your doctor thinks that it’s not a suitable procedure for you?

You may be an excellent candidate for kyphoplasty. Usually, this procedure is a better fit for patients that are dealing with bone fractures that have severe pain.

While vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are both surgical procedures, in the latter, you’ll usually be under twilight anesthesia.

The good news?

The kyphoplasty success rate is currently fixed at about 90%.

So, how does it work?

You’ll start out, as you did with vertebroplasty, on your stomach, face down on the operating table.

Interestingly, this procedure actually uses a small balloon, similar to ones made use of in heart surgery, to help to fix the vertebra.

It’s filled up with a small amount of liquid, and then slowly inflated. It’s also helping in fixing any kind of wedging that has occurred as a result of breaks. As the procedure progresses, the cavity is filled with strong bone cement at a low pressure.

Once everything is completed, your doctor will deflate the balloon and, of course, remove it from the spine.

Just like in the vertebroplasty procedure, you’ll then need to wait for the cement to fully dry. You may experience a slight discomfort, but will soon be feeling much better.

Potential Kyphoplasty Complications

As with vertebroplasty, the largest potential risk to the patient remains the possibility that the cement might leak out of the injection site in the vertebra and into other parts of the body, but the risk is less than vertebroplasty.

Though these risks can be lessened with the use of x-ray guidance, if it happens, it can present a serious issue.

This is because the cement, if it leaks, can actually press down on your nerves or even your spinal cord. However, it’s important to remember that this, while not impossible, is a rare event.

Additionally, you may experience a feeling of numbness, especially in the back area. In other cases, you may notice that you feel the sensation of tingling.

You may also deal with an infection at the site of the injection, and blood loss just as you would with vertebroplasty.

This is why it’s so important to be honest and upfront with your doctor about any medications you’re currently taking. The same goes for any pre-existing health conditions that you may have been diagnosed with.

Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty: Wrapping Up

We hope that this post has helped you to understand both how the procedures of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty work, as well as the potential risks associated with them.

Of course, the quality of your care and your recovery is entirely dependent on the surgeon and team of doctors that you choose to work with.

When it comes to the health of your spine and back, you shouldn’t take any chances.

At Executive Spine Surgery, we offer minimally invasive procedures performed by a board-certified surgeon. Our goal is to work to create an individualized treatment plan, while also minimizing the length of your recovery.

Get in touch with us today to learn more, and to schedule a consultation.

We look forward to placing you on the path to recovery as soon as possible.

kyphoplasty procedure

What to Expect After a Balloon Kyphoplasty Procedure

There are about 500,000 people in the USA who suffer from some kind of spinal injury every year.

Doctors can help spinal injuries that involve compression fractures and other breaks through a form of treatment called kyphoplasty. This procedure involves a hollow needle, a balloon, and a cement mixture. It sounds frightening but it’s really a wonder of modern medicine.

Keep reading to learn more about a balloon kyphoplasty procedure and what to expect after you get one.

What Is a Balloon Kyphoplasty Procedure?

When one of your vertebrae breaks or fractures, the pieces of bone can start rubbing against each other when you move. This can be painful and make it hard to move around.

A kyphoplasty can treat these types of fractures, including other things like compression fractures, spine tumors, or old injuries that aren’t healing. This procedure uses a cement/bone strengthening material to treat these kinds of afflictions. The cement takes away the pain by stabilizing the damaged spine.

The balloon makes room for the mixture in the spine. The doctor inserts the balloon, injects the cement mixture, and removes the balloon again.

Let’s take a closer look at the process of a kyphoplasty:

  • Using an X-ray, the surgeon inserts a hollow needle through your muscles and into the damaged bone.
  • They place a deflated balloon into the needle and inflate it to make space in the bone for the cement mixture.
  • The surgeon places the mixture into the open space and removes the balloon and needle.
  • They then bandage the incision point.

This is a minimally invasive procedure, but it does take some preparation. Here’s what you’ll need to do before your kyphoplasty.

How to Prepare for Your Procedure

You should stop taking non-steroid anti-inflammatories a week before your surgery. This includes common painkillers like Ibuprofen, Naprosyn, Advil, Aleve, etc. If you aren’t sure about a type of medication, ask your doctor if it’s okay before you take it.

Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight the evening before your surgery. If your doctor has approved a type of medication, you can take this with a small sip of water. Other than that, you shouldn’t have any food or beverages of any kind.

Make sure you arrive at your appointment at least an hour early. This will make sure you get there on time if you’re running late or hit any traffic. The surgeon may have to cancel your appointment if you show up late.

What to Expect After a Balloon Kyphoplasty Procedure

The expected recovery time for your balloon \ can change depending on your circumstances and your habits.

For example, using tobacco of any kind has a serious, negative effect on your recovery. Anyone who uses tobacco must stop using from two weeks before the procedure to two weeks after the procedure.

Here’s a list of things you can expect after your balloon kyphoplasty procedure.

How Long Will I Stay in the Hospital?

Again, the procedure can be different for each person. While one kyphoplasty patient may be able to return home the same day as their procedure, others might have to stay several days in the hospital before the surgeon discharges them.

In most cases, you shouldn’t be there any longer than two days.

Do I Need Physical Therapy?

Most surgeons refer you to a physical therapist at your first post-surgical visit. While in therapy, you should avoid bending or twisting your back.

If the exercises in physical therapy make you feel pain, you should stop doing them right away. Wait for your next visit with your neurosurgical provider to talk about the pain and what to do about it.

How Long Should My Incision Site Hurt?

Any pain you experience should be mild and don’t expect to feel all of it at your incision site. Most of the pain you feel will be in your back, ribs, and loins.

If you notice excessive swelling or drainage from the incision, you should get medical attention right away. You should also visit a doctor as soon as possible if you have a fever, chills, nausea, or trouble breathing.

How Long Should I Wear a Bandage?

You must wear your bandage for at least the first day after surgery. After that, you can take it off.

However, you can’t remove the staples or sutures on your own. Those must stay in until your post-operative visit. Your doctor will remove these for you. This can be anywhere between one or two weeks after your procedure.

When Can I Bathe Again?

On the third day after your surgery, you can shower again. But the showers should be quick. Don’t scrub or make any direct contact with your incision.

Stay out of bathtubs, pools, hot tubs, oceans, or other water until two weeks have passed. This water isn’t clean or sterile, so it could get into your incision and cause an infection.

When Can I Return to My Normal Activities?

You’ll need to give yourself several weeks of recovery time before you return to work or your usual activities. Pushing yourself too hard too fast can make your injury worse and lengthen the recovery time.

For example, you shouldn’t lift more than 5 or ten pounds for the first three weeks after your surgery. After the fourth week, you can increase this to 20 pounds. You shouldn’t lift anything heavier than this until three months have passed.

As long as you are off any pain medications, you can drive two weeks after your surgery. If you are experiencing any pain when driving, you might want to push this back.

Don’t sit on hard surfaces or for long periods of time until two to four weeks have passed. You should also stay away from activities that might lead to trips and falls, such as playing with children or partaking in sports.

But don’t confuse recovery for bedrest. You should start walking as soon as you can after the surgery (sometimes your surgeon will encourage you to walk an hour after your surgery). Walking prevents blood from clotting, strengthens your muscles, and improves your cardiovascular health.

There isn’t an exact time you should return to work. Since every job requires different levels of physical exertion, you should return to work once you feel able. Two weeks tends to be enough recovery time for most people.

What to Do After a Kyphoplasty

The effects of a kyphoplasty procedure are different for each person, so be patient with yourself and give yourself enough time to recover. Pushing yourself is only going to make your injury worse and your recovery time longer. Stick to plenty of rest and plenty of walking.

Think you might need a kyphoplasty? Don’t wait to book an appointment with us online.

I broke my back. Who do I see for vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

I would recommend seeing a spine surgeon if you are considering vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty.    You should bring your x-rays, CT and MRI to be reviewed and interpreted to determine the best treatment for you.  For more information about spinal compression fractures, vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty  please click Kyphoplasty.

Click Schedule an Appointment to learn more how Executive Spine Surgery can help you.  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!