What Is Balloon Kyphoplasty Surgery?
Balloon Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive operation, commonly performed on the mid and lower back. A balloon, inserted into the vertebral compression fracture (VCF), is inflated and filled with cement, in an attempt to correct the spinal position and subsequently relieve pain. Left untreated, the fracture can cause the spine to gradually shorten and bend forward. This results in a hunched over shape called kyphosis, which can cause chronic pain, breathing problems, loss of appetite and sleeping problems.
Why Is This Surgery Suitable For Me?
Balloon Kyphoplasty is recommended when the pain in your back and limbs is affecting your quality of life and alternative treatments, such as pain relief and physiotherapy, have not worked. If you have previously had a series of spinal injections and these have not provided long-term benefit, this indicates that definitive long-term treatment such as surgery may be required. The aim of the surgery is to correct the spinal deformity which will provide immediate and sustained pain relief and improve your quality of life.
How Is It Performed?
You will be given a general anaesthetic. The surgeon makes a narrow, 1cm incision in your back. Your spine is viewed on a live X-ray screen. The surgeon can now accurately create a very small pathway into the fractured vertebra. A special deflated balloon is inserted into the VCF.
The balloon is inflated to correct the deformity. X-ray control ensures the balloon is inflated to the desired height. The balloon is removed, leaving a cavity within the vertebra. The cavity is filled with bone cement to stabilise and fixate the fractured vertebra.
You will need a minimum two night stay in Hospital. Following surgery, you will need to undergo a physiotherapy-based rehabilitation program.
Some Important Considerations
Not all vertebral fractures require surgery, the pain can sometimes resolve between 2-6 weeks of onset. However, should the pain persist, be of a chronic nature, and is unresponsive to conservative treatments, then surgery will be considered.
Surgery seems to get people better quicker but has some risks associated with it.
Surgery has less risk, and is safer, on fit and healthy patients. It is common sense to take responsibility as a patient to reduce the risks whenever possible. Simple measures such as stopping smoking, losing weight and improving aerobic fitness all help.
The risk of significant complications from kyphoplasty is overall very low, although—as with all types of spine surgery—it is not zero. The risk of significant bleeding, infection, nerve injury, spinal fluid leak, paralysis, and pulmonary embolus is significantly less than 1% for each, and estimated at significantly less than 2% for all combined. Adverse reactions to the bone cement resulting in hypotension are extremely rare, and may be related to performing Kyphoplasty at multiple levels of the spine.