Factors Your Doctor May Consider – Balloon Kyphoplasty

A spinal fracture (also called a vertebral compression fracture) occurs when one of the bones of the spinal column fractures or collapses. Osteoporosis causes loss of bone strength and stability and is the underlying disease in most patients suffering from spinal fractures.

In addition to osteoporosis, bone loss can occur as a side effect of medications such as corticosteroids, certain cancer treatments, and lifestyle choices including smoking, inactivity, and low calcium intake.

The bones in your spinal column are different than the bones elsewhere in your skeleton. For example, the bones in your legs are more rigid and dense than the bones in your spine. Strong, dense bone enables your legs to withstand rigorous movement. The bones in your spine, however, are less dense and more “spongy,” and thus more vulnerable to fracture.

Balloon kyphoplasty is a treatment option generally reserved for patients with back pain or deformity related to spinal fracture(s). After a physical exam, imaging tests such as x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) might be ordered to confirm the diagnosis of a spinal fracture.

Patients are generally seen by a GP before referral to a specialist. After treatment with balloon kyphoplasty, the patient is then referred back to the GP for medical management of the underlying disorder.

Most patients report relief from pain and improved mobility after the procedure.1

As with most surgical procedures serious adverse events, some of which can be fatal, can occur. These include heart attack, cardiac arrest (heart stops beating), stroke, and embolism (blood, fat or cement that migrates to the lungs or heart). Other risks include and are limited to infection; leakage of bone cement into the muscle and tissue surrounding the spinal cord and nerve injury that can, in rare instances, cause paralysis; leakage of bone cement into the blood vessels resulting in damage to the blood vessels, lungs and/or heart.

This procedure is not for everyone. Please consult your doctor for a discussion of these and other risks.

References

  1. 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.

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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