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What is Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure to treat pain caused by tiny spinal fractures that result from cracked or collapsed vertebrae (the bones of the spine).  The procedure specifically treats painful, fractured vertebrae; it is not a treatment for painful or damaged discs (the soft tissue between the bones of the spine), or any other painful areas. 

Kyphon Balloon Kyphoplasty is an innovative, minimally invasive procedure, whereby the surgeon inserts a very small balloon into the vertebra and inflates it. This moves the bone fracture back to the normal position, creating a cavity.  Next, the balloon is removed, and the cavity is filled with a quick-hardening bone cement; this cement provides the internal support needed for the bone to heal in its natural position. 

Kyphoplasty has been performed in the past using both local and general anesthesia. The procedure lasts about one hour (per fracture) and often takes place on an outpatient basis. Although the bone may take weeks to fully heal, pain relief is often immediate because bone fragments are no longer rubbing together. Remarkable results have been reported, including patients who came in for the kyphoplasty procedure in wheelchairs and walked out just hours later.

Are You A Candidate?

Kyphoplasty is used to treat individuals who suffer from vertebral fractures. Often, these fractures result from osteoporosis, a condition that affects approximately 10 million Americans, mostly older adults. Osteoporosis causes the bones of the spine to weaken and often to collapse, creating fractures. Osteoporosis isn't the only culprit of spinal fractures, however. Other conditions, such as bone cancers, can be the cause. Sadly, the consequences of untreated spinal fractures can be devastating. In addition to severe pain, they can cause disfigurement, including an exaggerated rounded curve in the spine known as kyphosis or Dowager's hump. This can make walking, eating, sleeping and breathing difficult. In the long term, it can even be fatal.

What Should I Do?

You should be evaluated by a qualified physician right away if you believe you are suffering from a spinal fracture. The sooner medical care is received, the easier it is to correct the spinal anatomy and reduce or even eliminate pain. Moreover, if you have a spinal fracture, or have had one in the past year, your risk for additional fracture increases fivefold. Thus, treatment could be key to eliminating future occurrence.

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