What is Kyphoplasty?

October 19, 2017

Kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure performed on the spine to treat vertebral fractures. It is a minimally invasive surgery that stabilizes fractured vertebrae, reduces fracture-induced back pain and prevents further fractures.

When do you need kyphoplasty?

You need to undergo kyphoplasty if you are suffering from kyphosis or a “humped back.” Kyphosis occurs when you sustain vertebral compression fractures or VCFs, which cause your spine to collapse, often toward the front, resulting in wedged vertebrae. Kyphoplasty is also used to treat a single wedged vertebrae.

When do you qualify for the procedure?

Not all patients with VCFs and kyphosis qualify for kyphoplasty. You are eligible for the procedure if you suffer from painful vertebral fractures caused by osteoporosis, bone marrow cancer, metastatic cancer or vascular tumors of a benign nature. Ideally, kyphoplasty is most effective if you have sustained VCFs no more than eight weeks before the surgery.

When do you not qualify for the procedure?

You do not qualify for kyphoplasty if your compression fractures are stable and not painful. Kyphoplasty also cannot treat established spinal deformities. Other conditions that make you unsuitable for the procedure include bone infections, tumors in the spinal canal, bleeding disorders and allergy to the medications used during the surgery. Your physician will plan a course of treatment that suits you best. 

What should you expect during the surgery?

During the surgery, the surgeon makes a small incision in your back, inserting a hollow needle into the fractured vertebra through this opening. A balloon is inserted through the needle. By inflating the balloon, the surgeon expands the collapsed vertebra, returning it to a normal height. After this, the balloon is removed and the space is filled up with bone cement, which solidifies and steadies the spine. The whole procedure takes approximately one hour for each vertebra. Kyphoplasty can be performed either under general anesthesia or local anesthesia.

What should you expect after the surgery?

After the procedure, you will be kept under observation for a day. The doctor may release you that day or the next day. For the first few hours after the surgery, movement is restricted. After that, you can sit up and slowly start walking. Once home, avoid exerting yourself for the next few weeks. You may be prescribed an exercise program to follow during recovery. Ensure that the incision is kept dry for the first few days. Consult your doctor immediately if the incision seems infected or if your body temperature exceeds 101⁰ Fahrenheit.

What are the results of kyphoplasty?

Based on data, kyphoplasty offers both short-term and long-term results. Patients report a significant decrease in back pain, improvement in mobility, increased quality of life and height restoration.