Back to a Healthier Lifestyle
Balloon Kyphoplasty Offers Relief for Patients with Fractured Vertebrae
By Bruce Ramsey, MD, Medtronic, Texoma LIVING WELL Magazine
You’ve suffered with back pain after falling or maybe just after bending down to pick up something off the floor. You finally make an appointment with a doctor to have it checked out. Your doctor determines that you have a vertebral compression fracture (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 that is currently offered at Texoma Medical Center, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital-WNJ and Heritage Park Surgical Hospital, is designed to treat the fracture and can significantly reduce back pain, correct spinal deformity and improve quality of life. Over 1,000,000 patients worldwide have been treated with balloon kyphoplasty.
“Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical treatment that can stabilize the fracture and reduce back pain, as well as restore height and spinal alignment,” explains Bruce Ramsey, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon on staff at Texoma Medical Center, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital-WNJ and Heritage Park Surgical Hospital.
Ramsey has been touting the benefits of balloon kyphoplasty for several years. 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 one 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,” says Ramsey. “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 Bruce Ramsey, MD, Neurologic and Spine Institute, 600 E. Taylor Street, Suite 3011, Sherman, TX 75090. He can also be reached at 903-893-5177.