Dr. Robert Berkowitz answers questions about kyphoplasty
What is a compression fracture?
“A compression fracture is a collapse of one of the vertebral bodies—the bones that make up your spine. If the collapse involves just the front part of the spine, the vertebra becomes wedge-shaped and is known as a compression fracture or wedge fracture. In cases where the entire vertebra is crushed, it is called a burst fracture.”
What causes compression fractures of the spine?
- Osteoporosis can cause aging vertebral bones to change from being concrete-like to being more like Styrofoam. A compression fracture occurs when one of these building blocks or vertebral bodies squashes down as if you’d stepped on a piece of Styrofoam.
- A traumatic injury can also cause compression fractures of the spine.
What is kyphoplasty?
“Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that restores the height of a bone with a compression fracture and immediately relieves most, if not all, of the patient’s pain.”
How is kyphoplasty performed?
“Kyphoplasty is done through two tiny incisions that we put Band-aids on afterwards. This procedure involves sticking a special needle into the Styrofoam-like bone with the compression fracture.
“The needle has a tiny balloon, which we inflate to ‘puff’ the bone back up again. Next, we deflate the balloon, pull it out of the bone and fill in the hole we just made with cement. Patients typically spend one night in the hospital for observation.”
Is a kyphoplasty necessary if compression fractures aren’t painful?
“No. Lots of people have compression fractures, but they don’t all hurt. If an older adult is getting shorter or hunched over, but is not having pain, there’s no indication to do a kyphoplasty.
“We only do a kyphoplasty for patients who have an acute injury with excruciating pain. It can be the most minimal trauma—one patient broke a vertebra while making her bed. Some people break a vertebra when they sneeze. Others have a fall or something more traumatic.”
Could kyphoplasty be right for you?
This information is simply an introduction to kyphoplasty. To diagnose and treat your spinal condition, we invite you to schedule a consultation with with one of our board-certified orthopedic surgeons.
Call 440.329.2800 for an appointment today.