With age or after an injury, your back may not respond as well to more conventional types of back treatments as it should. So instead of suffering, the spine surgeons at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) may turn to fairly new technology to give your back a bit of bionic rebirth. The new procedure is called a kyphoplasty.
It’s not a brace or a disc replacement procedure. It’s a process by which your doctor inserts new materials into your spine through a type of balloon. That’s why the procedure is often referred to as a balloon kyphoplasty.
Best Candidates for Kyphoplasty
Common conditions that could benefit greatly from kyphoplasty include:
- Compression fracture
- Debilitating back pain
- Fracture from an accident
Kyphoplasty is not appropriate for all people with osteoporosis, but it can provide exceptional relief if your weakened bones have led to fractures and severe pain. It can help relieve the painful pressure of a dowager’s hump or other malformations.
The procedure cannot correct certain spinal deformities that you’ve had for a long time. And it’s vital that you seek treatment from an experienced spinal surgeon as soon as you have a back injury, because kyphoplasty performed within eight weeks of an accident is the most likely to give you the best results.
Walking You Through It
Your doctors at SSI only resort to surgery after exhausting all other treatment options. When it is the best path, however, they sit you down and clearly explain the procedure. They let you know what you can expect before, during and after your surgery. The steps in the kyphoplasty include:
- Your doctor administers local or general anesthesia.
- He inserts a needle through your back at the exact site of the problem, guided by live X-rays (fluoroscopy).
- A balloon is placed through the needle and inflated to fill the cavity and return the vertebra to its normal size.
- Your doctor pushes cement through the needle to fill the balloon.
- The needle is removed, leaving just a tiny hole with no need for stitches.
- The cement dries quickly and results in a stabilized vertebra.
The entire procedure won’t take more than an hour or so — unless you’re having kyphoplasty on more than one vertebra, which is an option you can discuss with your doctor. You may spend one night in the hospital, but after 24 hours, you can begin walking and slowly getting back to your regular activities. Some people resume walking within as little as an hour after surgery, depending on where on your back the procedure took place.
After the procedure, avoid lifting anything heavy for about six weeks. Apply ice to the insertion site when it feels uncomfortable.
Following kyphoplasty, most people find that they feel better than they have in a long time. Pain is greatly reduced, and your movement is restored to the range you had before your spinal pain began. The hardened substance in your spine keeps it from collapsing further, so you might even regain some of the height lost due to osteoporosis.
You’ll rely less on pain medications after you heal. You’ll be able to more fully participate in an exercise program to strengthen your back and core to prevent further complications, too. Contact the spinal medicine experts at SSI for more information.