Stabilizing a Fractured Vertebra

iStock 898597376 Osteoporosis can weaken our bones to the degree that a movement as seemingly harmless as sneezing can cause a compression fracture in a vertebra. Compression fractures are more common in the mid-back, the thoracic spine. These are the vertebrae numbers T1-T12. These fractures can also occur in the lumbar spine in the lower back. 

To stabilize the fractured vertebra, Dr. Trujillo may use kyphoplasty. Kyphoplasty is a form of vertebroplasty where the fractured bone is stabilized using bone cement made specifically for medical use. 

What is kyphoplasty? 

When a person suffers from a spinal compression fracture, it can be almost impossible to move freely. The bone fragments can rub against each other, and the pain can be severe. 

In kyphoplasty, the goal is to insert bone cement into the compressed vertebra to return strength to the bone. These are outpatient procedures that Dr. Trujillo can perform right in our Show Lo offices. 

Here’s how it is done: 

  1. Dr. Trujillo inserts a hollow needle (trocar) into your skin. With the aid of fluoroscopy, a type of x-ray, he guides the needle through your muscles and into the correct position in your vertebra.
  2. He then inserts an inflatable balloon into the trocar, and the balloon is inflated. This returns space to your collapsed vertebra. Now the balloon is deflated and removed. Because you are lying down, the space created remains.
  3. Now bone cement is injected through the trocar into the space created by the balloon. The x-ray shows if the mixture is distributed properly. The cement fully hardens in about 10 minutes.
  4. The needle is then removed, and a bandage is applied.

With a single vertebra, the procedure takes less than an hour. 

Who would be a good candidate for kyphoplasty? 

Kyphoplasty can be effective in treating people whose bones are weakened by cancer or whose vertebrae have collapsed due to osteoporosis. This is a repair treatment for a damaged vertebra; it is not meant as a preventive treatment. Kyphoplasty is not used for herniated discs, back arthritis, or curvature of the spine due to scoliosis. These treatments are not intended for younger patients, as the long-term effects of bone cement have not been extensively tested. 

If you have osteoporosis, there is a real risk of a spinal compression fracture. Dr. Trujillo can help if that happens with kyphoplasty. If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment, please call us at (855) 768-4968.

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