Kyphoplasty is a procedure that is used for compression
fractures, which occur in the spine usually as a result of osteoporosis.
In the past elderly patients with compression fractures have been sent
home with a brace, placed on pain medication, or sometimes even admitted
to nursing homes because of the inability to care for themselves after
these fractures. Most of these fractures can still be treated
conservatively. However, some patients are simply in too much pain and
are, therefore, unable to care for themselves. For those patients
kyphoplasty offers a minimally invasive way of reducing the fracture and
stabilizing the area so that almost immediate pain relief is obtained.
The procedure is done by placing two needles through the skin and into the
fractured vertebra using live x-ray guidance. Two balloons are then
inserted through the needles and inflated to “push” the fracture back into
place. This, again, is done under x-ray guidance to assure the correct
position. After the fracture has been reduced the balloons are deflated
and bone cement is used to fill the void. This cement becomes hard in
minutes and provides immediate stability and therefore pain relief. These
patients are usually kept overnight and allowed to return home and back to
regular activities the next morning. This has become one of the most
common operations performed due to its widespread success.