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What is Kyphoplasty?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Kyphoplasty is a surgical technique used to treat progressive vertebral body collapse and/or fractures (VFCs). Osteoporosis or the spread of a tumor to the spinal area may cause the condition. Osteoporosis is an age related condition that causes softening of the bones. The building blocks of the spine weaken and then collapse.

When this happens, pain becomes severe and a progressive hunchback appears. There are certain forms of cancer that also weaken bones and cause the same problems. Kyphoplasty involves the use of a balloon to restore the vertebral body to its correct shape and height. This is followed by a bone cement to strengthen it. Kyphoplasty is best performed a few weeks after VFC appears.

Kyphoplasty is usually performed under intravenous sedation. The patient lies face down on a table and two x-ray machines show where the collapsed bones are. The kyphoplasty begins with two small incisions into the back; a tube is then inserted into the center of the vertebral body. Balloons are placed through this tube and inflated to push the bone back to its normal shape and height.

The procedure also creates a cavity in the bone. When the cavity is created, the surgeon removes the balloon. Cement is used to fill the cavity in a very slow and controlled manner. The cement is allowed to harden before the surgeon removes the tubes. A single suture is used to close the incision.

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After the kyphoplasty surgery, patients can usually go home on the same day. Patients can go about their normal activities as soon as possible. There are no restrictions on the type of activities they can undertake.

As with all invasive surgeries, there are some minimal risks to kyphoplasty. Some patients may complain of persistent pain, possibly due to irritation of the tissues involved in the surgery. The degeneration of the spine or underlying arthritis are more likely causes of persistent pain. If there is pain related to the kyphoplasty procedure, it should disappear with two weeks.

After kyphoplasty treatment, osteoporosis may cause fractures at other levels. Patients must take bone-strengthening medication during the treatment. Kyphoplasty usually prevents fractures from occurring, but if they do occur, more kyphoplasty treatments may be required to alleviate the condition.

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