Balloon Kyphoplasty Features Numerous Benefits

Balloon Kyphoplasty Features Numerous Benefits

Procedure Offers Relief for Patients with Fractured Vertebrae

By Jennifer Zahn, MD, MPH, Denton County LIVING WELL Magazine

You were getting out of bed and suddenly felt a “pop” and an intense amount of pain in your back that nearly leaves you unable to move. Osteoporosis has caused your bones to become so weak and brittle that everyday activities, such as walking, sleeping and getting out of bed, become more difficult than usual. The back pain is caused by small fractures in the spine, also known as vertebral compression fractures (VCF).

Most VCFs are caused by osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become brittle and break easily. Osteoporosis, often called the “silent disease” because bone loss occurs without symptoms, threatens approximately 44 million Americans, or 55% of the people 50 years old and older, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Ten million people have the disease and 34 million more are estimated to have the low bone mass that places them at risk for the disease.

If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly as bones gradually break down, until a bone breaks. These broken bones occur typically in the spine, hip, and wrist. People may not even know they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or fall causes an injury such as a VCF.

A VCF can cause severe back pain. Left untreated, one VCF can lead to multiple fractures that can cause kyphosis – a serious health condition marked by forward curvature of the upper back, commonly called a “dowager’s hump.”  This condition can lead to a host of health problems including loss of appetite, sleeping problems, difficulty in breathing, and an increased risk of death.

Traditional treatment for VCFs is limited to bed rest, bracing and pain management, often through narcotics. While these therapies may help to decrease a patient’s pain over time, they do not treat the deformity related to osteoporotic fractures. If left untreated, the curvature caused by VCFs becomes more pronounced, painful and debilitating.

However, vertebral compression fractures can be treated. Balloon Kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure, is designed to treat the fracture and can significantly reduce back pain, correct spinal deformity and improve quality of life. Over 850,000 patients worldwide have been treated with Balloon Kyphoplasty.

The benefits of this procedure include:

  • Significant reduction in back pain
  • Significant improvement in quality of life
  • Significant improvement in mobility
  • Significant improvement in ability to perform daily activities

What is Involved in Balloon Kyphoplasty?

Balloon Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive treatment for VCFs. With a hollow instrument, the surgeon creates a small pathway through a tiny incision (approximately 1 centimeter in length) into the fractured bone. A small orthopedic balloon is then guided through the instrument into the vertebrae. The balloon is then carefully inflated in an effort to raise the collapsed vertebra and return it to its normal position.

Once the vertebra is in the correct position, the balloon is deflated and removed, creating a cavity within the vertebral body. The cavity is filled with a special cement to support the surrounding bone and prevent further collapse. The cement forms an internal cast that holds the vertebra in place.

Balloon Kyphoplasty can be done under local or general anesthesia. Typically the entire procedure takes less than one hour per fracture treated and may require an overnight hospital stay.

Patients notice a significant reduction in the number of days where pain interferes with their daily activities. Most patients are very satisfied with this procedure and are able to gradually resume normal activities shortly after they are discharged from the hospital.

For more information about Balloon Kyphoplasty, please contact Jennifer Zahn, MD, 2900 I-35 North, Suite 200, Denton, TX  76201. She may also be reached at 940-323-3400.