Kyphoplasty: Benefits, Risks, and Complications

The Kyphoplasty is a two-stage procedure that is designed to first elevate a the damaged section of vertebral bones to their original height with a balloon, and to then fill in the thinned areas of the bone with a synthetic material. The synthetic material that is injected into the bone, then hardens to maintain the restored height of the bone and protect against future compression fractures of that bone. The Kyphoplasty is a modern procedure that is designed to treat compression fractures of the vertebrae, and the symptoms that result from them, including a stooped posture, back pain, neck pain, and difficulty with non-exercise activities (walking, lifting objects). Though this procedure may not be able to correct an existing curvature deformity of the spine, it may be able to prevent an existing problem from getting any worse. The procedure has a good success rate towards preventing a further collapse of the vertebrae caused by compression fractures, and to restore the height of the vertebral body that existed before the pathological changes began.

Performing the Kyphoplasty Surgery: Prior to the insertion of the medical equipment designed to inflate the balloon inside the bone and insert the cement-like synthetic material, an incision in front of the affected vertebrae is made. X-ray images and fluoroscopy is then used to guide a tube into the affected vertebrae. Next, a balloon will be gradually inflated to vertically inflate the vertebrae, compact the soft inner bone, and to create a cavity inside that will be filled with a hardening cement. Once the balloon is withdrawn, the cavity is filled in with a material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). Once the material fills the cavity, it quickly hardens, resulting in a stable repaired bone, if the procedure is successful. Kyphoplasty: Benefits, Risks, and Complications
Risks and complications associated with kyphoplasty are minimal, because of the small incision involved to insert the tube, and the relatively short duration of the procedure. This is considered a minimally invasive surgery, and usually performed under local anesthesia. There is typically post-op pain involved with this procedure. On the contrary, some patients will feel immediate back pain relief or neck pain relief. In other cases, the patient may feel a gradual improvement in their symptoms in the next few days following the procedure. For the most part, patients post-op can resume normal activities, though they should avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exertion for at least six weeks. Patients who experienced success from this procedure, should still consult with their doctor as to other treatments available to minimize or reverse the progression of the affected vertebrae or other vertebrae of the spine to prevent against future compression fractures. Potential benefits of this procedure include repair of the vertebrae responsible for causing these potential symptoms in patients: trouble initiating and maintaining sleep, difficulty breathing (decreased lung capacity), loss of range of motion and mobility, chronic low back pain, and chronic neck pain.

The main risks associated with this procedure are similar to all back surgeries, namely allergic reaction to the anesthesia and infection. Risks that are more specific to this procedure include nerve or spinal cord injury related to inappropriate positioning of the equipment involved or leakage of the cement material info blood vessels or the epidural space.