Vertebroplasty / Kyphoplasty
This procedure is performed when a person has suffered an acute fracture of a thoracic or lumbar vertebra (broken back). Fractures of the spine can be caused by many things including fall from a height, high speed collision, slip and fall, or can even happen without any major injury due to osteoporosis (fragility fractures). The vertebral bodies or bones in the back are shaped like a rectangle. When the bones fracture they tend to collapse in the front causing the bone to look like a trapezoid or wedge. This can sometimes lead to bone being pushed back into the spinal canal causing pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. An MRI is necessary to determine the age of the fracture and if there is any bony retropulsion (bone pushing into the canal). If there is bony retropulsion the gluing procedure or kyphoplasty is not indicated and bracing is the treatment of choice. If there is no retropulsion and the fracture is acute you will be given options for treatment including the surgical procedure discussed here or conservative treatment with bracing and pain management. The kyphoplasty procedure is usually done under sedation (not general anesthesia). A trocar is placed through the skin into the fractured bone where a small area is drilled out for placement of the balloon. A small balloon is then inflated making room for the cement or glue. The cement is slowly placed filling the area and stabilizing the fracture with the hopes of alleviating severe pain.