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What is kyphoplasty surgery?

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical method of treating the pain caused by vertebral compression fractures. It stabilizes the vertebral structure and can assist in fixing the abnormal collapse of the vertebrae caused by the fracture. Osteoporosis and metastatic cancer (cancer that spread from one part of the body to another) are most often the causes of these fractures.

Why it's done

Your doctor may recommend kyphoplasty if your vertebrae are damaged by osteoporosis or other conditions like cancer. Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens bones, making them more susceptible to fractures. Vertebral compression fractures due to osteoporosis happen to 750,000 people in the United States each year. Unfortunately, a compression fracture is often misdiagnosed and mistakenly assumed to be general back pain from muscle strain or other soft tissue injuries. As a result, two-thirds of vertebral compression fractures are misdiagnosed each year.

Complications

Complications of kyphoplasty can include: 

  • Tingling, numbness or weakness from nerve damage
  • Movement or leakage of the cement
  • Infection
  • Bleeding

What to expect

During kyphoplasty, the surgeon injects bone cement through two small incisions on either side of the fractured vertebrae. X-ray equipment is used to identify the fracture and guide the surgeon through the procedure. The surgeon then inserts an inflatable bone expander within the vertebra that expands the bone to normal height, and the bone cement is injected slowly into the space.

Results

Kyphoplasty delivers pain relief in as little as 12 to 48 hours after surgery. Because it is a minimally invasive procedure, most patients experience a speedy recovery.  Satisfactory results are achieved in 90 percent of patients, many of whom are able to return to full activity and normal daily routines as early as two weeks after surgery. 

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