Understanding the Balloon Kyphoplasty Procedure
What is a Balloon Kyphoplasty?
Balloon kyphoplasty is a procedure that treats vertebral compression fractures (VCFs). A VCF is a condition where the bone breaks in the spine (vertebrae) causing the bone to collapse resulting in severe back pain. Osteoporosis (a condition that weakens bones and results in breakage) is usually the main cause of VCF. Others include injuries or osteolytic tumors.
The balloon kyphoplasty procedure involves using a small balloon to lift the area within the bone that has collapsed. This helps surgeon fill it with bone cement to ensure ample support to the bone and bring it back to it’s anatomically correct position.
Benefits of the Procedure
The doctor makes very a tiny incision. A Percutaneous Needle is used to perform the procedure. This minimally invasive procedure helps the patient recover quicker than an open back surgery. Patients can usually return home the same day of the procedure. The back pain is reduced significantly. This will restrict the amount of pain medications prescribed. Return to daily activities quickly is very common.
Balloon Kyphoplasty involves very low risk of:
• Leakage of bone cement
These risks are common to any medical procedure.
Balloon kyphoplasty is not a prevention based procedure. Hence, it will not prevent VCFs from happening in the future.
Before the Procedure
The patient will see a spine surgeon. They will discuss and review the x-rays or MRI images and discuss the procedure. The patient should ask questions about the risks and benefits of having kyphoplasty.
It is important that patient informs their doctor if they are taking:
– Any blood thinning medications
An anesthesiologist will give medicine to help the patient relax and feel no pain during the procedure. The anesthesiologist and nurse will discuss their medical history.
– Eating or drinking after midnight prior to the procedure.
– Regular medicine with sips of water can be taken.
On the Day of Procedure
The doctor will put an intravenous (IV) in the patient’s arm to give you fluids and medicines during the procedure. A local anesthetic is administered in the back, using a needle to numb the area where the doctor will do the procedure.
The Doctor makes a small incision in the back (site of VCF). X-ray is used to lead a small needle to where the bone is broken. A small balloon (orthopaedic balloon) is placed through the needle. It is inflated very carefully to create space and raise the area of collapsed bone. The doctor deflates and removes the balloon once space is created. Thereafter bone cement is injected into the space to ensure stability of the bone.
The patient is checked for the following:
• Heart rate
• Blood pressure
• Surgical incision
Going Back Home
Usually doctors allow patients to go back home within a few hours after the procedure. It is advisable to have a friend or family member take the patient home.
It is natural for patient to feel some pain that begins about 24 hours after the procedure. Patients are usually prescribed pain medicine to manage pain.
The patient may also feel some tenderness around the incision site. This should go away within a few days. The bandage and or dressing placed over the incision can be removed after 24 hours.
Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of the following conditions:
• Feel numbness or tingling in legs and/or feet
• Fever higher than 38° C or 101° F
• Difficulty / unable to move legs
• Feel sick (nausea or vomiting)
• Bowel and/or bladder problems
Meeting the Doctor
Patients will have a follow-up appointment with the doctor about 1-2 weeks after the balloon kyphoplasty procedure.