Patient Information Resources

Alpine Physical Therapy
Three Locations
In North, South, and Downtown Missoula
Missoula, MT 59804
Ph: 406-251-2323
Fax: 406-251-2999

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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Is it true that once I've had a kyphoplasty procedure for vertebral compression fracture, I'm likely to have another fracture needing another kyphoplasty? What's the point of having the procedure if it's just going to create more problems down the road?

Compression fractures are the most common type of fracture affecting the spine. A compression fracture of a spine bone (vertebra) causes the bone to collapse in height. Kyphoplasty to treat the problem involves inserting a deflated balloon into the fractured and collapsed vertebral body. Hydraulic pressure is used to inflate the balloon. The balloon is inflated until the vertebral body height is restored to normal or until the balloon is fully inflated. The balloon is then collapsed and removed. The empty space left by the inflated balloon is quickly filled in with cement that is injected into the area. Kyphoplasty procedures are minimally invasive -- that's one good advantage. They aren't supposed to be a "quick fix". They really are used to stabilize the spine and prevent further problems. But all too often, patients go on to develop another compression fracture. In most cases, the second fracture affects the adjacent vertebral body (next spine bone above or below the original compression fracture). Surgeons are concerned about this potential complication. They are looking for ways to reduce the patients' risk of another vertebral compression fracture after having kyphoplasty. Identifying possible risk factors and doing something about them is one approach. In a recent study on this topic, surgeons studied the results of 256 kyphoplasty procedures. They were looking for clues (risk factors) that set patients who develop second vertebral compression fractures after kyphoplasty apart from those who don't have any further problems. They found that the main risk factor was taking steroid medications. These powerful anti-inflammatory drugs work well for what they were intended but they do have some significant side effects. Decreased bone density is one that adds to the risk of compression fractures. The best way to prevent the need for additional kyphoplasty procedures is to monitor patients who are at risk for vertebral compression fractures. Anyone taking steroid medications should be aware of the importance of reporting any signs and symptoms of spinal fracture to the physician right away. Early intervention with conservative care may be able to help patients prevent going to surgery for this condition.


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