Kyphoplasty: How Does It Work?

Dr. Constantine Toumbis

09 April 2021

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive vertebral augmentation procedure designed to correct spinal compression fractures. Compression fractures can cause intense, severe back pain that radiates from the affected area to the back muscles and flanks.

Looking for a kyphoplasty procedure in the Crystal River or Jacksonville area? Read on to learn more about kyphoplasty, how it works, and what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

What Condition Requires a Kyphoplasty? 

Kyphoplasty is performed on those suffering from a vertebral compression fracture. Compression fractures occur when the cancellous bone — the porous bone inside of your vertebrae — collapses. 

Compression fractures can be caused by trauma resulting from a fall or car accident, however they can also occur without injury. In patients with osteoporosis, a spinal compression fracture is the leading type of fracture. Metastatic tumors are linked to compression fractures since they commonly spread in and around the spine, putting pressure on the vertebrae causing them to weaken and collapse.

A typical symptom of a compression fracture is severe back pain that gets worse with time or when moving or standing. Without timely treatment, a compression fracture can lead to loss of height, disability, chronic pain and permanent deformity. In severe cases, patients may experience symptoms of numbness and tingling in the legs, loss of bowel or bladder control or difficulty walking — all of which are a sign you should seek immediate medical attention. 

How To Know When You Need a Kyphoplasty

The best way to determine if kyphoplasty is right for you is to consult with a spinal specialist. 

When you meet with your doctor, you may have questions regarding your back pain and treatment options — thinking of these ahead of time can help you better understand your condition. To diagnose a compression fracture your doctor may conduct a physical exam, bone density test and a series of imaging scans such as an MRI scan, X-ray, CT scan, or a bone scan. They will also ask questions regarding your health, symptoms and medical history to identify the cause of your fracture.

If you’re diagnosed with a vertebral compression fracture, your doctor will work with you to create a custom treatment plan. In most cases, compression fractures can heal with non-surgical treatments such as activity modification and back bracing, along with pain medications. If your condition doesn’t improve with non-surgical treatments, your doctor may recommend a vertebral augmentation procedure, like kyphoplasty, to correct the fracture.

How Does Kyphoplasty Work? 

As with any procedure or surgery, it’s important to understand how to prepare, what it entails, and what you should do afterward to expedite recovery. 

Before the Procedure

Before any spinal procedure or surgery, it’s important to ensure you’re in optimal health — proper preparation will help the recovery process run smoothly. Typically, this entails adhering to a healthy diet, managing chronic health conditions, cutting out tobacco products and alcohol and following any other guidelines your physician provides. Your doctor will also give you a list of guidelines to prepare for the surgery the day before. 

During the Procedure

During kyphoplasty, your surgeon will decompress the fractured vertebra. Using an X-ray as their guide, they will insert a small tube with a balloon inside, and slowly inflate the balloon until the vertebra is restored to its original shape and height. Then, your doctor will insert a small needle to inject bone cement into the fractured vertebra to stabilize it. 

At Citrus Spine Institute, our team of board-certified spinal specialists performs kyphoplasty procedures in-office. Since this procedure is minimally invasive, it can be done under local anesthesia and conscious sedation, requires no hospital stay and takes less than an hour to complete. 

After the Procedure

Be sure to have someone escort you safely home after your procedure. Follow all instructions given by your healthcare provider, attend follow-up appointments and communicate any changes with your doctor. Hot and cold therapy using ice and a heating pad can help alleviate any soreness you may feel. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Kyphoplasty 

What Is the Success Rate and Recovery Time of Kyphoplasty? 

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that’s highly safe and effective. If you’ve sustained a compression fracture due to an underlying condition, such as osteoporosis, you may need to follow a long-term treatment plan to protect you from further bone loss and injury. 

While some soreness is to be expected post-procedure, most patients notice a significant improvement in pain within the first 24 hours. Most patients can return home shortly after their procedure and resume regular daily activities, however strenuous activities that put stress on your back such as lifting heavy items and exercise should be avoided. 

Recovery time and restrictions will vary person-to-person, and depend on different factors including overall health, the amount of compression fractures that were repaired, and if there were any complications during the procedure. 

What Are the Risks of Kyphoplasty?

While the likelihood of health risks and complications from kyphoplasty is low, they can include: 

  • Persistent or worsening pain
  • An allergic reaction to the materials used in the procedure
  • Bone cement leakage, which is typically asymptomatic but could potentially injure your nerves or spinal cord 
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Additional fractures 
  • Paralysis — however this is very rare 
  • General surgery risks such as infection or allergic reaction to anesthesia

Contact Citrus Spine Institute To See if Kyphoplasty Is Right for You

At Citrus Spine Institute, our board-certified healthcare providers specialize in spinal health and procedures. We will work with you to choose the right treatment plan. Schedule a consultation to get the conversation started.

If you are experiencing severe back pain, you should never ignore or try to suffer through it. Always consult your doctor. If you are not satisfied with your doctor or require specialized care, it is recommended to get a second opinion from a spinal specialist.

Dr. Constantine Toumbis

Dr. Toumbis is a board certified, fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in cervical, thoracic and lumbar surgery. He received his undergraduate degree in Biology from New York University in 1987, then continued on to receive his Masters in Natural Sciences as well as a PhD in Experimental Pathology from State University of New York at Buffalo. He completed his medical degree at Wayne State University School of Medicine with a distinction in Biomedical Research. After moving to Florida to complete his internship and residency in orthopedics at the University of Florida Shands Hospital, he went on to pursue a fellowship at Cleveland Clinic's Florida Spine Institute. He moved to Citrus County and has been in private practice since 2005.

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