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Spine Surgery Guide

Exam and Test for Kyphoplasty

Treatment of spinal compression fractures.

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive spinal surgery procedure used to treat painful vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) due to osteoporosis or tumor spread to the vertebral body.

The traditional treatment for fractures within a vertebral body (one of bones of the spine) caused by osteoporosis has included pain reduction medication, bed rest, and bracing. Kyphoplasty offers immediate pain relief and stabilization of the vertebral body. It is also effective in treating pathologic compression fractures.

Compression fractures of a vertebral body not only cause pain but also cause the spine to shorten and fall forward. Many people develop a 'hump back' posture deformity after a compression fracture.

What is an Vertebral Compression Fracture?

In this type of fracture, the top of the vertebral body collapses down with more collapse in front thus producing the "wedged" vertebrae, the "dowagers" hump and shortened height.

Why Treat a Vertebral Compression Fracture? The first, and most obvious reason is for pain relief. The relief or decrease in pain after Kyphoplasty is usually immediate, and occurs in about 90% of patients treated.

Prolonged bed rest, or inactivity, causes loss of muscle mass and strength.

Improvement in pulmonary (breathing) function - one thoracic VCF causes 9% loss in ability to take a deep breath.

Psychological consequences Depression develops in up to 40% of patients with compression fractures, due to chronic pain, changes in body image, deterioration in the ability to perform self-care, and pro-longed bed rest.
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Background and history:

The most common cause of compression fractures is osteoporosis. This is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural changes causing bones to become fragile and easily broken. Osteoporosis is often referred to as a "silent disease" since the bone loss occurs without symptoms. Many people do not realize that they have osteoporosis until a fracture occurs.

Vertebral compression fracture (VCF) is the most common fracture associated with osteoporosis, accounting for more than 700,000 or almost half of the total number. After the first VCF, the risk of subsequent osteoporotic spine fractures increases by more than five-fold.

The initial treatment for a VCF is conservative, using analgesics, bedrest and possible bracing for pain control. Most patients will have a gradual decrease in pain with these palliative measures. However, many patients find the pain intolerable, are unwilling to wait several weeks or months for healing, or are intolerant of the brace.

In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration approved a special balloon, the KyphX Inflatable Bone Tamp, for use in reducing (setting) fragility fractures of the spine. Kyphoplasty often provides significant pain relief and functional improvement, as well as restoring the height and stability of the vertebral body.

More than 3,000 patients have undergone the new procedure in the United States since the balloon’s approval. The procedure is currently undergoing studies comparing it to other treatments. I have performed over 100 Kyphoplasties.

Description of kyphoplasty surgery:

The goals of this surgical procedure are designed to stop the pain caused by the bone fracture, to stabilize the bone, and to restore as much vertebral body height as possible. due to the compression fracture.
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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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