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A kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that treats compression fractures, generally caused by osteoporosis or spinal tumors. Compression fractures are classified as painful breaks in the vertebrae, or bones of the spinal column. If left untreated, compression fractures can cause bones in the spine to collapse, leading to kyphosis, or a curve in the spine. Kyphosis can limit breathing or limit the function of abdominal organs. 

Kyphoplasty candidates 

Patients who experience painful back pain caused by a compression fracture, and/or those who experience limited mobility caused by a compression fracture, are perfect candidates for a kyphoplasty. For patients to qualify for a kyphoplasty, the pain must be a direct result of a compression fracture. Kyphoplasty procedures are not suitable for those suffering from other back conditions like disk herniation, arthritis, or stenosis. Your healthcare provider will perform diagnostic tests to confirm the fracture and make sure a kyphoplasty is right for you.

Preparing for a kyphoplasty

Before a kyphoplasty, patients will be asked to temporarily pause some medications, like blood thinners. Patients will also be asked to quit or reduce unhealthy habits like smoking or indulging in alcohol. Post-procedure, doctors will recommend quitting smoking altogether, as smoking will likely slow the healing process. 

The patient will likely go home the same day of the procedure. Most patients will feel some soreness a few days after the procedure, but generally, the recovery time for kyphoplasty is minimal and patients can return to their regular activities 2-3 days post-procedure. Patients will be told to avoid strenuous activity like heavy lifting until their bone health improves. 

Benefits of a kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty procedures drastically reduce and can sometimes even eliminate the pain caused by compression fractures. The procedure also helps to prevent kyphosis, the hunched-over posture. In most cases, there is no need for patients to undergo any physical therapy or rehabilitation. 

Though rare, side effects may include infection or bleeding, increased pain, nerve damage, and additional fractures if the patient has been diagnosed with osteoporosis. 

What is the difference between a kyphoplasty and a vertebroplasty?

Both kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty procedures are effective and minimally invasive surgeries used to treat compression fractures in the spinal column. With both procedures, 80-90% of patients experience pain relief post-procedure. The difference between kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty lies in how the procedure is done. In a vertebroplasty, balloons are not used to lengthen the spine. Instead, a doctor uses image guidance to inject a small amount of medical cement directly into the cracked or broken spinal bone to help relieve pain.

Both kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are safe and effective treatments for elderly patients suffering from vertebral compression fractures.

Find relief with the Pain Institute of Middle Tennessee

If you are considering a kyphoplasty, reach out to us for additional information. Schedule an appointment with one of our physicians today to see if a kyphoplasty is the correct treatment for you.