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Kyphoplasty is a procedure designed to relieve back pain caused by compression fractures of the thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (low-back) spine that have failed to heal normally. These fractures of the vertebrae are most often seen in the elderly population and are usually the result of severe weakening of the bone from osteoporosis. The underlying osteoporosis often results in delayed healing or lack of healing of the fracture. Osteoporosis can also be seen in younger individuals, as a result of long-term use of steroids used to treat diseases such as asthma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Compression fractures may also occur in vertebra weakened by cancer.

Procedure preparation

A technologist or nurse will contact you 24-48 hours prior to your appointment to review medications you are currently taking, especially pain medications and blood thinners, discuss known allergies and your medical history, as well as answer your questions.

Contact your doctor before you stop taking any medication.

Please bring to previous imaging study results (MRI, CT, x-rays) such as films, reports, or CD-ROMs, if available.

You will need a driver for your appointment. If you are unable to drive or arrange transportation, call us for assistance.

Please notify a member of our staff if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

What to expect during the procedure

You will be admitted to the hospital or surgery center the morning of the procedure for preparation and preoperative nursing assessment.

Laboratory tests to ensure proper blood clotting may be necessary at this time.

Kyphoplasty is generally performed using a local anesthetic (numbing medication) in conjunction with heavy sedation, administered by an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist.

Using x-ray-guidance (fluoroscopy), the radiologist inserts a specialized needle through the skin into the damaged vertebra on each side.

Through the outer needle, channels are drilled within the bone. KyphX balloons, or bone tamps, are then placed into each channel.

The balloons and are slowly inflated, moving the collapsed vertebra to try and restore the bone to its original shape.

Once the desired result is achieved, the balloons are deflated and the cavities that have been created within the bone are then filled with bone cement, which has the consistency of toothpaste.

The bone cement hardens over 10-20 minutes, stabilizing the fractured vertebra. It is possible to treat more than one fractured vertebra at the same operation, if necessary.

What to expect after the procedure

We will provide you with activity and physician rehabilitation guidelines.

Kyphoplasty generally requires admission to the hospital, although actual hospital stay is usually around 24 hours, depending on the patient’s condition and the number of fractures that are treated.

Most patients experience marked pain relief within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, and may resume activities soon after the procedure.

Potential side effects

Complications are rare, but you are encouraged to keep a record of any symptoms you experience following the procedure and report them to the radiologist at the time of the follow-up visit, usually 7 to 14 days after the procedure.

Physical therapy may be ordered at the time of the follow-up visit to maximize your overall recovery.