Compression fractures in the spine can cause unimaginable pain which prevents victims from living fulfilling lives. A compression fracture occurs when a part or all of a spine bone collapses. When the resulting bone fragments rub against each other, they make it difficult for the patient to move freely. At the office of Craig C. Callewart, M.D., P.A., in Dallas, TX, we fix compression fractures using kyphoplasty. Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive treatment process that repairs compression fractures with little to no disruption of patients’ daily activities.
Vertebral Compression Fractures
A vertebral compression fracture is the collapse of a vertebra caused by either trauma or a weakening of the vertebra. The latter happens in older patients, especially those suffering from osteogenesis imperfecta, osteoporosis, infection of the vertebra and lytic lesions from primary tumors or metastatic. Young and healthy individuals can also suffer a vertebral compression fracture after experiencing severe vertical shock.
Signs and Symptoms of a Vertebral Compression Fracture
One of the biggest signs of a vertebral compression fracture is severe back pain. In cases where a vertebral compression fracture occurs over time or is caused by osteoporosis, the patient may not display any signs but will eventually experience back pain and loss of height.
Diagnosis of a Vertebral Compression Fracture
Through spinal radiographs, a doctor can see a wedge-shaped vertebra or can determine any loss of height. Compression fractures caused by osteoporosis can be evaluated by measuring a patient’s bone mineral density. CT or MRI scans can help to evaluate compression fractures caused by a tumor or severe trauma.
Treatment of a Vertebral Compression Fracture
One of the treatment methods of a collapsed vertebra is kyphoplasty.
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure used to repair and restore the height a fractured vertebra by injecting bone cement into the affected area. During the procedure, a small balloon is inflated in the affected area to create a void which is then filled with bone cement. Once the cement is injected, the balloon is removed to allow natural healing. This treatment process takes some hours, and the patient can be discharged on the same day.
Kyphoplasty, also referred to as balloon vertebroplasty, is more effective when carried out within 2 months of a vertical compression fracture diagnosis. It is ideal when other treatment methods have failed and the patient is dire pain and unable to move freely.
Since kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure, the doctor will order some blood tests before the surgery. He will also carry out an X-ray or MRI scan to get a better view of the affected area. The doctor will use an intravenous line (IV) to administer a local or a general anesthesia. Additionally, the doctor can give the patient pain and anti-nausea medications and antibiotics. In some cases, he might connect the patient to devices that will monitor blood pressure, heart activity and pulse rate.
During the procedure, the patient has to lie down on their stomach. If necessary, the area where the needle goes in is shaved, then cleaned and sterilized. Anesthesia may also be administered.
The doctor then proceeds with the following steps:
- Using an X-ray to determine the exact location of the compression fracture, the doctor inserts a hollow needle through the patient’s skin and muscles to reach the affected vertebra.
- He then inserts an inflatable balloon through the hollow passage in the needle.
- He inflates the balloon to create a void that he will later fill with the bone cement.
- After he is satisfied with the size and placement of the void, he then fills it up while using imaging tests to ensure proper distribution of the bone cement.
- After properly filling the void with bone cement, the doctor removes the needle and covers the area with a bandage.
- Finally, he removes the intravenous line (IV) and disconnects the patient from the monitoring devices.
The procedure can take less than an hour, especially if only one vertebra is being treated.
Once the procedure is complete, a patient can rest in the recovery room for a short while. You should be able to stand and walk within an hour after kyphoplasty. While many patients are discharged on the same day, additional overnight monitoring may be required if the kyphoplasty involved more than one vertebra, if there are some complications or if the patient’s general health is poor.
Before the patient leaves the clinic, the doctor will advise them on the best recovery practices, including when to resume normal activities, and if necessary, the best supplements or medication to strengthen their bones. To monitor the patient’s progress, the doctor will ask the patient to schedule a follow-up visit.
At home, the patient can use an ice pack to reduce immediate pain and soreness. The pain and soreness will reduce significantly after 2 days.
A vertebral compression fracture can interfere with the quality of your life. It can cause unending, severe back pain and also hinder proper mobility. If you have been suffering from severe back pain for more than two months, and pain medicine, bed rest and physical therapy are not providing relief, then it is time to visit the office of Craig C. Callewart, M.D., P.A., in Dallas, TX. Doctor Callewart will examine the cause of your prolonged severe back pain and provide you with more information on kyphoplasty.