Return to Got Bones?
July 21, 2006
Kyphoplasty for Vertebral Compression Fractures
The foremost cause of vertebral compression fractures is osteoporosis. 700,000 cases occur every year. The fractures lead to a curvature of the spine. Patients become malnourished as compression of the stomach leads to a false sense of fullness that prevents them from eating and eventually leads to an overall deterioration of their bodies. And then there is the horrible pain.
The majority of patients respond favorably to traditional treatment which can include bed rest, analgesics, back-bracing, physical therapy, and muscle relaxants. But some patients suffer from prolonged pain and immobility that can persist for life.
Bill Ingram used to love camping and fishing with his wife, Elnora, down in Texas and meeting friends from all over the world, some of whom just sent him cards for his 86th birthday. But those days came to an end when osteoporosis caused fractures in his spine.
Kyphoplasty is a procedure to fix this. Two small incisions are made and a tube is inserted into the spine. A tiny balloon is inserted into the tube and inflated. This creates a cavity on both sides. The balloons are deflated and the cavities are filled with cement. The cement makes the vertebra stronger, the balloon restores its height and shape, and the pain is relieved in 95% of patients.