Balloon kyphoplasty surgery

Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical techniques for the treatment of painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures. Unlike other forms of spinal fracture treatment, the surgery attempts to rectify spinal deformities, providing immediate and long-term pain relief and an enhanced quality of life.

Mild kyphosis may show no signs or symptoms at all. However, in addition to an unnaturally curved spine, some patients have back discomfort and stiffness. If you notice an increased curve in your upper back, make an appointment to see one of our specialists for fast access to accurate diagnoses and world class treatment.

What is kyphosis?

Kyphosis is excessive outward curvature of the spine that causes the top of the back to seem more rounded than usual. Everyone has some degree of curvature of the spine.

Kyphosis is caused by a deterioration in the spinal bones, which leads them to compress or fracture with age.

Severe kyphosis is a painful and disfiguring condition, whereas mild kyphosis may produce no noticeable signs or symptoms. Kyphosis treatment is determined by your age, as well as the source and effects of the curvature.

Severe cases of kyphosis complications may occur, these include:

  • chronic pain that does not respond to treatment
  • difficulty breathing due to the spine compresses the lungs and airways

When the nerves that travel through the spine become compressed or pinched,which can alter nerve signals, resulting in symptoms like:

  • numbness or weakness in the arms and legs
  • difficulties with balance
  • loss of bladder or bowel control

These are serious symptoms and necessitate immediate medical attention, and surgery is often recommended.

What causes kyphosis?

A healthy spine is made up of separate bones (vertebrae) that are stacked in a column. When the vertebrae in the upper back become more wedge-shaped, this is known as kyphosis. Causes include:

  • Fractures. Curvature of the spine can be caused by broken or crushed vertebrae (compression fractures). Mild compression fractures often go undetected due to their lack of symptoms.
  • Osteoporosis. This is a bone-thinning condition in which bones grow weak and fragile, making them more likely to break (fracture). This can result in spinal curvature, particularly if weaker vertebrae induce compression fractures. Osteoporosis is more common in older women and those who have been taking corticosteroids for a long time.
  • Spondylosis. This is a term that describes the general "wear and tear" of the bones, discs, and ligaments of the spine as a person gets older.
  • Paget's disease. This is a disorder in which the formation of new bone cells is interrupted, causing the bones to weaken.
  • Disk wear-and-tear. Soft, round discs serve as cushions between the vertebrae of the spine. These discs dry up and shrink with age, causing kyphosis to worsen.
  • Scheuermann's kyphosis. This condition usually develops during a growth spurt before puberty. Boys are more likely to be affected than girls resulting in abnormally shaped vertebrae where vertebrae don't develop properly and end up out of position.
  • Congenital kyphosis such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome where the spine develops abnormally before birth.
  • Treatments for cancer and cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation cancer therapies, as well as cancer in the spine, can weaken vertebrae and render them more susceptible to compression fractures.
  • Poor posture (postural kyphosis) – slouching, leaning back in chairs, and carrying heavy bags can stretch supporting muscles and ligaments, increasing spinal curvature.
  • A spinal injury

Can kyphosis get worse?

Because the body must adapt for the spinal abnormalities, back discomfort can be particularly challenging in individuals with kyphosis.

In addition to back pain, tenderness of the spine and general fatigue, kyphosis can lead to:

  • Breathing difficulties. The lungs can be compressed by severe kyphosis.
  • Physical abilities are limited. Kyphosis is characterised by weakening back muscles as well as difficulties walking and getting out of chairs. The curvature of the spine can make it difficult to stare upward or drive, as well as create pain when lying down.
  • Problems with digestion. Severe kyphosis compresses the digestive tract, creating issues including acid reflux and swallowing difficulties.
  • Problems with one's appearance. People with kyphosis, particularly adolescents, may have a negative body image as a result of their rounded back or the use of a brace to address the condition. Poor body image might contribute to social isolation in older adults.

What is balloon kyphoplasty?

Your surgeon makes a 1cm incision in your back and makes a tiny passage into the fractured bone. In the fractured vertebral body, a tiny balloon (inflatable bone tamp) is inserted. Your surgeon carefully inflates the balloon to correct the collapsed vertebral body's alignment. After that, the balloon is removed, leaving a cavity in the spine. To stabilise and fix the damaged vertebra, this cavity is filled with bone cement.

Before the cement hardens, the needles are quickly removed. Skin glue or steri-strips are used to close the minor skin incision. You will remain on the operating table until all of the cement in the mixing basin has hardened.

This procedure is carried out on the left and right sides of your vertebrae.

You can expect a significant reduction in pain within hours of the surgery. Long term, balloon kyphoplasty will increase your mobility and allow you to resume to daily activities including walking, bending, and lifting with considerably less pain than before the treatment.

Mental health, vitality, social function, and emotional well-being have all improved in patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Balloon kyphoplasty FAQs

Mr Stewart Tucker and Mr Ahmed-Ramadan Sadek, our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons in back and spine and leaders in the field of balloon kyphoplasty, will answer all the frequently asked questions about balloon kyphoplasty.

Depending on the case, balloon kyphoplasty can be done while the you are asleep or awake and under local anaesthetic. It's usually an outpatient procedure. The majority of people are able to return home the same day. A fully engaged and informed patient is critical to the procedure's effectiveness.

  • Bending or twisting your back should be avoided.
  • Nothing more than 5 pounds should be lifted.
  • There will be no strenuous activities, such as yard work, housework, or sex.
  • Driving should be avoided for the first 2-3 days, as well as while taking pain relievers or muscle relaxants. You can drive if your pain is under control.
  • Don't consume alcoholic beverages. It thins the blood and makes bleeding more likely. Also, don't combine alcohol and pain relievers.

If you have any of the following, you may not be a good candidate for balloon kyphoplasty:

  • Stable compression fractures that aren't painful
  • Infection of bones (osteomyelitis)
  • Bleeding problems
  • Allergic reaction to the drugs administered during the operation
  • Fragment of a fracture or a tumour in the spinal canal

Balloon kyphoplasty is a safe and effective treatment for symptomatic compression fractures for the elderly.

Many patients report almost immediate pain relief following kyphoplasty. Pain relief may take longer for some people, but it normally happens within 48 hours. It's not a cause for concern if you don't feel fully pain-free right away.

Surgery is usually recommended in the most severe cases of kyphosis, when the benefits of surgery are thought to outweigh the risks.

Balloon kyphoplasty is recommended if:

  • your spine curve is quite prominent
  • you are in constant that medication can’t alleviate
  • your spine curve is interfering with your body's other critical functions, like as breathing and your nervous system
  • the structure of your spine is likely to degrade further

There are risks associated with any procedure. Common complications include bleeding, infection, blood clots, and adverse reactions to anaesthetic. The following are more specific risks to consider:

  • Bone cement leakage
  • Nerve damage

Kyphoplasty should only be done after consultation with appropriate specialists, such as an oncologist, interventional radiologist, and spinal surgeon, and at facilities with good spinal surgical access, such as Schoen Clinic London.

A neurosurgeon, orthopaedic surgeon, or interventional neuroradiologist can perform kyphoplasty. Our spine surgeons are trained in minimally invasive spine surgery.

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