What causes spinal fractures? Most spinal fractures —also called Vertebral Compression Fractures or VCF —are caused by osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak and break easily. Certain types of cancer or tumors also can cause spinal fractures.
How common are spinal fractures? Worldwide, one in three women and one in eight men over age 50 are affected by osteoporosis, a common cause of spinal fractures.1There are an estimated 700,000 spinal fractures each year in the United States.2Many spinal fractures go undiagnosed and untreated —often because people consider back pain a normal part of aging and don’t mention it to their doctors. But if you leave it untreated, you could be at risk for more injury and even death.3-7
What are the typical symptoms of a spinal fracture? A spinal fracture may cause mild to severe back pain and can occur after simple daily activities such as sneezing or lifting a light object.
What are the consequences of spinal fractures? Spinal fractures can have health consequences such as2: § Increased disability § Increased use of pain medications § Hunched back, which can result in decreased lung function They can also have consequences on quality of life including2: § Reduced mobility, including slower walking and the need to use walking aids § Feelings of social isolation and depression
How are spinal fractures diagnosed? Your doctor may press on your back to locate the source of your pain. You’ll have images like an x-ray or MRI scan taken of your spine to confirm the diagnosis.
What are the treatment options for spinal fractures? Conservative measures to treat spinal fracture pain include bed rest, pain medication, physical therapy, and bracing.2However, this approach does little to treat or prevent kyphosis and does not attempt to repair the fracture. Alternatively, there are interventional procedures that use bone cement to create an internal cast within the vertebra (the bones in your spine) to stabilize the fracture.
What is Balloon Kyphoplasty? Balloon Kyphoplasty (BKP) is a minimally invasive treatment for spinal fractures due to osteoporosis or cancer that corrects the vertebral deformity and stabilizes the fracture and has been shown in clinical studies to provide pain relief.10
How is the Balloon Kyphoplasty procedure performed? Through two small incisions each approximately 1 cm in length, the specialty physician uses a needle and cannula to create a small pathway into each side of a fractured vertebral body. A small balloon is guided through each cannula into the vertebra. Each balloon is carefully inflated in an attempt to raise the collapsed vertebra and return it to its normal position. Inflation of the balloon creates a void (cavity) in the vertebral body. Once the vertebra is in the correct position, the balloons are deflated and removed. The resulting cavities are filled with bone cement forming an “internal cast” to support the surrounding bone and prevent further collapse.
How long does the Balloon Kyphoplasty procedure take? The Balloon Kyphoplasty procedure typically takes about one hour per fracture and may be performed in an outpatient setting. The procedure can be done using either local or general anesthesia; the specialty physician will determine the most appropriate method, based on the patient’s overall condition.
What is the recovery time? After Balloon Kyphoplasty, patients are typically monitored in a recovery room for about an hour. Patients are encouraged to walk and move about to assess how their back feels, and a doctor or nurse will explain any limitations on physical activity, answer any questions, give care instructions, and schedule a follow-up visit.
What are the benefits of Balloon Kyphoplasty? Compared to non-surgical treatments like a back braces or oral medications, people with spinal fractures treated with Balloon Kyphoplasty in clinical studies experienced several benefits8-11: § Less back pain § More quality of life § Better mobility § Less time on bed rest and fewer days when pain interferes with daily activities § Satisfaction with the procedure
What are the risks of Balloon Kyphoplasty? Although the complication rate for Kyphon™ Balloon Kyphoplasty is low, as with most surgical procedures, serious adverse events, some of which can be fatal, can occur, including heart attack, cardiac arrest (heart stops beating), stroke, and embolism (blood, fat, or cement that migrates to the lungs or heart). Other risks include infection; leakage of bone cement into the muscle and tissue surrounding the spinal cord and nerve injury that can, in rare instances, cause paralysis; leakage of bone cement into the blood vessels resulting in damage to the blood vessels, lungs, and/or heart. Talk to your doctor about both benefits and risks of this procedure.
Is Balloon Kyphoplasty covered by insurance? In most cases, Balloon Kyphoplasty is covered by Medicare and private insurance carriers. If you have questions regarding your policy or coverage, contact your insurance carrier.
Who performs Balloon Kyphoplasty? Specialists trained to perform the Balloon Kyphoplasty procedure include some orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, interventional radiologists, and pain medicine doctors. If you think you have a spinal fracture, you may need to see your primary care doctor for a diagnosis, and if necessary, get a referral to a specialist for treatment with balloon kyphoplasty.