Summer/Fall 2009 Issue

Helping Patients Recover From Spinal Fractures
Advanced Options Significantly Reduce Pain

kyphoplasty procedure
1. Balloon is inserted into fracture
2. Balloon is inflated to create cavity
3. Balloon is removed and cavity is filled with cement
To view an animation of the kyphoplasty procedure, click here.
Nearly one million vertebral compression fractures occur every year in the United States. These fractures can be caused by osteoporosis, tumors, or trauma and are most often treated by immobilizing the spine in a brace for up to three months. When a brace proves ineffective, many patients with this condition find relief from one of two innovative procedures: kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty.

A kyphoplasty is performed by a neurosurgeon in an operating room. First, a small incision is made in the skin on each side of the spinal column. Next, a balloon is inserted into the fracture, which is then inflated to create a cavity in the bone and restore the height of the vertebra. Bone-hardening cement is then injected to fill the cavity. Kyphoplasty can also correct the kyphosis (hunchback) deformity that often occurs with spinal compression fractures.

A vertebroplasty is usually performed by a radiologist in an X-ray suite. This procedure is similar to kyphoplasty, but does not include the insertion and inflation of a balloon. Recent stories in the news have called into question the effectiveness of vertebroplasty for treatment of spinal fractures. However, our experience and studies show that both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty can give carefully selected patients significant improvement in pain and can allow them to return to their usual activities.

The current debate about vertebroplasty reminds us that decisions regarding treatment of compression fractures should be made after careful discussion between discerning patients and informed physicians. The neurosurgeons of Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates have performed kyphoplasty for the treatment of compression fractures since 2003. Only the best candidates for surgery are selected and success rates are very high. From kyphoplasty to spinal fusions, our surgeons have performed hundreds of procedures in the treatment of compression fractures.

Symptoms of spinal fractures can include back and leg pain. To schedule a patient appointment, call 800-344-6716.

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