What Is Balloon Kyphoplasty?

The adult spine is a column of 33 bones that protects the spinal cord and enables us to stand upright. Each bony segment of the spine is referred to as a vertebra (two or more are called vertebrae).

Having a spinal fracture means that one of the vertebrae has either cracked or collapsed. Like other bones in the body, the extent of the break can vary, from a hairline fracture to a complete collapse of the vertebral body.

When a bone breaks, localised swelling can occur, and pain is common. In the spine, swelling and misalignment can irritate adjacent tissue and nerves. Damage to even one vertebra can alter the alignment of your spine, upsetting the distribution of weight along the spinal column and setting the stage for another fracture.

Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that can repair spinal fractures. It takes about an hour per fracture level to treat a fracture with balloon kyphoplasty, and the procedure can be done on an outpatient or inpatient basis.

Balloon kyphoplasty can reduce or eliminate your back pain from a spinal fracture, as well as restore vertebral body height and proper alignment of your spine. Early and effective treatment (fixing the broken bone) may reduce the consequences of spinal fractures, especially those associated with other treatments, for example, prolonged bed rest or use of analgesics.1-3

Other benefits include sustained improvement in mobility, improvement in ability to perform activities of daily living, and improved quality of life. However, as with most surgical procedures there are risks associated with the procedure, including serious complications. This procedure is not for everyone. Please consult your physician for a full discussion of risks and benefits of this procedure.

References

  1. Garfin, S.R., R.A. Buckley, and J. Ledlie, Balloon kyphoplasty for symptomatic vertebral body compression fractures results in rapid, significant, and sustained improvements in back pain, function, and quality of life for elderly patients. Spine, 2006. 31(19): p. 2213-20.
  2. Ledlie, J.T. and M.B. Renfro, Kyphoplasty treatment of vertebral fractures: 2-year outcomes show sustained benefits. Spine, 2006. 31(1): p. 57-64.
  3. Gaitanis, I.N., et al., Balloon kyphoplasty for the treatment of pathological vertebral compressive fractures. Eur Spine J, 2005. 14(3): p. 250-60.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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