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Healthwise: Balloon Kyphoplasty

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

October 28, 2009

Interventional Radiologists perform a new procedure that can relieve crippling back pain for some patients. The procedure is called Balloon Kyphoplasty {KIE-FO-PLASTY} and doctors at Martha Jefferson Hospital have performed nearly 500 of them. The surgery is usually done on older patients who are living with osteoporosis or weakened bones.

"They usually break really with minimal trauma, as little as going over a bump in a car or just a very minor fall, because their bones are week," said Dr. Anthony Spinelli.

That break can be fixed with the Balloon Kyphoplasty procedure. Despite the big name, it's really a small outpatient surgery to repair the fracture. When the bone breaks, it compresses the vertebrae so it is shaped more like a wedge instead of a cube.

"We place two needles into the fractured vertebral body and through these needles we put two balloons. These balloons we gently inflate together and what that does is it gets the vertebral body that's broken wedge configuration back up to its normal configuration. We then remove the balloons and introduce bone cement that goes into that cavity we created. The cement stabilizes that vertebral body," said Dr. Spinelli.

The balloon surgery decreases the pain from the fracture, and Dr. Spinelli says the complication rate from this procedure is less than one percent.

"The bottom line is it's an extremely safe procedure. It's minimally invasive and patients who have severe wedge compression fractures with significant pain, the benefit far outweigh the risk," he said.

If you are thinking seriously about Balloon Kyphoplasty as an option to cope with your back pain, the Intervention Radiologists at Martha Jefferson Hospital say there are other procedures, but Kyphoplasty is their choice to fight this costly and painful problem.

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