If you suffer from a spinal compression fracture that has been diagnosed within the past 12 weeks, you might benefit from the kyphoplasty procedure. The kyphoplasty procedure is a minimally invasive procedure that treats painful spine fractures by injecting a special type of bone cement into the vertebra. It has been shown to be a safe, effective, and durable procedure for treating patients with painful VCF due to osteoporosis or cancer, according to a study of 350 patients who had kyphoplasty.
Neurosurgery One’s Denver neurosurgeons and spine specialists perform kyphoplasty. To perform the kyphoplasty procedure, a Neurosurgery One spine neurosurgeon or physiatrist will insert a small tube through a small, half-inch incision over the sight of your fractured vertebra. The physician uses x-ray image guidance to insert the tube into the fractured vertebra. Once in place, the physician inflates a small balloon in the compressed vertebra to expand it back to its normal height.
The balloon is then removed and the physician fills the space with a special type of bone cement. This cement hardens and stabilizes the vertebral fracture, providing pain relief and helping reduce the risk of fractures in surrounding vertebrae.
Kyphoplasty is used to treat compression fractures that are painful and can lead to a condition called kyphosis, which is rounding of the back that creates a “humped” back or “bent over” look. Kyphoplasty has sometimes been referred to as “Dowager’s hump surgery;” however, that term is outdated and offensive so it is no longer used.
Patients who benefit most from kyphoplasty are those with a recent vertebral compression fracture who do not have additional neurological symptoms, and those with minimal additional health issues. These types of compression fractures most often occur in the upper back area between the shoulders. Compression fractures also can occur in the lower back and we perform lumbar kyphoplasty in those cases. Our physicians at Neurosurgery One have performed successful kyphoplasty procedures on patients who are more than 90 years old!
FAQs About Kyphoplasty Procedure
Continue reading below to learn more about kyphoplasty, or click on one of these links to go directly to the information that interests you.
- What is the definition of kyphoplasty?
- When is kyphoplasty recommended?
- Why is kyphoplasty good for treating vertebral compression fractures?
- How long does the kyphoplasty procedure take?
- What is recovery from kyphoplasty like?
- What are restrictions after kyphoplasty?
- What is the kyphoplasty success rate?
- What is a SpineJack kyphoplasty?
- Am I a candidate for a spinal implant like the SpineJack?
- What’s the difference between kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty?
Conditions We Treat
What is the definition of kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgery that can effectively treat spinal compression fractures by injecting a small amount of cement into the vertebrae. Kyphoplasty first utilizes a small balloon, which is inserted into the spine. This heightens the compressed vertebra and creates space for the injection of cement. The kyphoplasty procedure is typically performed as outpatient surgery by one of our Denver neurosurgeons or physiatrists at Neurosurgery One in Lakewood, Littleton, Lone Tree, Parker and Castle Rock.
When is kyphoplasty recommended?
The kyphoplasty procedure is recommended for patients with compression fractures of the spine, also known as vertebral fractures. Kyphoplasty lumbar surgery is recommended for patients with lower back spinal fractures. Typically, the procedure is most effective when performed within 12 weeks of the fracture occurring. After this period of time, your body has attempted to heal on its own and restoring height to the fractured area becomes difficult
Why is kyphoplasty good for treating vertebral compression fractures?
Because kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, patients often experience minimal recovery time with near-immediate benefits. This procedure stabilizes the fractured vertebra and decreases pain. Most patients experience pain relief within a day of the kyphoplasty procedure. Kyphoplasty can sometimes lead to restoration of height to the fractured area.
How long does the kyphoplasty procedure take?
The length of the procedure depends on the number of vertebrae that are fractured, which we refer to as the number of “levels.” One level of treatment is a compression fracture in just one vertebra. This procedure would take about 40 minutes. Three levels of treatment would be three different compression fractures throughout the vertebrae. This type of kyphoplasty procedure may take up to two hours to perform.
What is recovery from kyphoplasty like?
Patients will be put under anesthesia for the procedure and will experience symptoms of waking up from sedation, like grogginess. Once patients come out of sedation, they typically go home the same day. Some kyphoplasty procedure patients will experience post-procedure pain from the needles. Generally, patients report feeling better with pain relief as soon as the day after kyphoplasty.
What are restrictions after kyphoplasty?
Most patients do not have to follow any restrictions after kyphoplasty other than to avoid soaking under water until the incisions have healed. Patients are often able to resume normal daily activities and physical therapy right after the procedure.
For patients who are extremely frail or who may have multiple compression fractures, you may need to avoid severe flexion activities that put strain on the back.
What is the kyphoplasty success rate?
Kyphoplasty is a safe and effective treatment for kyphosis, if patients are correctly assessed and selected. In the largest study of kyphoplasty, patients showed a 72% improvement in their back pain.
Bone health is the biggest predictor of success from procedures like kyphoplasty for compression fractures. Neurosurgery One offers a Spine Fracture & Bone Health Clinic to help patients improve their bone health before and after surgery. Patients who experience a vertebral compression fracture are most at risk of experiencing another fracture as underlying factors like osteoporosis are often at play. Our specialty clinic works closely with you to improve your bone health and reduce your risk of experiencing future spinal compression fractures.
What is a SpineJack kyphoplasty?
SpineJack kyphoplasty is a newer spinal implant procedure for spinal compression fractures. Rather than using a balloon to create space in the fracture, SpineJack kyphoplasty uses an implant that looks and functions much like a tiny car jack. Two jacks are inserted into the fractured vertebra, then raised to restore the original height of the vertebra. Once the jacks are in place, bone cement is injected around them. In addition to providing pain relief, the SpineJack kyphoplasty procedure allows for almost complete height restoration of a compressed vertebra. The implant also can help correct spine alignment issues and stabilize the spine.
Am I a candidate for a spinal implant like the SpineJack?
Whether or not SpineJack is the right kyphoplasty procedure for you depends on your compression fracture and bone anatomy. Because the device requires more space than a balloon, people with skinnier bones or small compression fractures are not typically candidates for SpineJack kyphoplasty. Additionally, patients who are older, in frail health, or cannot undergo anesthesia for long periods would not be good candidates. (Traditional balloon kyphoplasty is a shorter procedure than the SpineJack, which reduces the amount of time a patient is anesthetized.
Because SpineJack kyphoplasty is a newer procedure, there are limited long-term studies. The procedure has been shown to provide better height restoration than balloon kyphoplasty, but research is limited as to the long-term benefits of back pain relief.
What’s the difference between kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty?
Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive spine procedures used to treat vertebral compression fractures. During vertebroplasty, a physician uses image guidance to insert a needle into the fracture vertebra. The physician then injects the bone cement into the vertebra through the needle into the fracture to close and stabilize it. With kyphoplasty, the physician takes the same approach using x-ray image guidance but inserts a small balloon through a tube to allow for inflation inside the fractured vertebra. This creates space to inject cement into the fracture and stabilize the bone.
Neurosurgery One’s spine neurosurgeons and pain management physicians typically recommend kyphoplasty over vertebroplasty as kyphoplasty has been proven to provide more pain relieve to patients. Additionally, only kyphoplasty can restore height in a vertebra.