Vertebroplasty & Kyphoplasty for Spinal Compression Fractures

Vertebroplasty & Kyphoplasty for Spinal Compression FracturesIf you were injured in a car crash or some other type of personal injury, you may have sustained a spinal compression fracture, a serious injury that may require two different types of medical procedures –vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.

A spinal compression fracture occurs when you have tiny, but extremely painful, breaks in your vertebrae. They often happen when the back or spine is forced to bend forward suddenly, placing too much pressure on the spine and causing small breaks in the vertebrae.

What causes spinal compression fractures?

Spinal compression fractures are often the result of osteoporosis or spinal tumors, but trauma can also be a cause. Falls and assaults can cause these fractures, as can motor vehicle accidents where a person:

  • Is physically thrown back and forth from the force of the impact
  • Is forced into a “hunched” position, such as slipping partially under an airbag, or getting stuck in a footwell of the car if the vehicle is crushed
  • Sustains penetrating injuries to the back in the crash

Spinal compression fractures can cause a lot of damage, but the greatest risk is damage to the spinal cord. A spinal cord injury can cause paralysis, and the severity of your paralysis would depend on where the SCI occurs. This injury is typically permanent, though some forms of paralysis are temporary.

What is vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

According to the Radiological Society of North America, Inc., vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are two similar procedures that doctors use to treat spinal compression fractures. Your healthcare provider will examine your back and spinal cord using X-rays and other types of images to make a decision on what type of medical treatment you may need. However, the main goal of both of these procedures is to insert a type of cement into the small breaks or spaces on your vertebrae. As a result, around 75 percent of people are able to “regain lost mobility and become more active” again.

Why would I need vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty?

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are methods used to treat spinal compression fractures. Therefore, if your doctor indicates that you have a spinal compression fracture, you will likely undergo either a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty procedure. These procedures may be recommended to treat  the following:

  • Chronic, severe pain
  • Limited or loss of mobility
  • Inability to carry out your normal duties or participate in your usual activities
  • Pain medications or physical therapy no longer effective
  • No signs of improvement within a certain time

What happens during vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

If a doctor recommends vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty to help ease your symptoms and possibly improve your spinal compression fractures, here is what you can expect:

  • Vertebroplasty: Vertebroplasty, according to one orthopedic center, “seals the fractures and stabilizes your bones,” and is typically recommended for minor compression fractures. When you go in for the procedure, you will either be given general anesthesia or some type of medication to sedate you. The doctor will insert a needle directly into the area where the compression fractures are located. They will then inject a cement mixture called polymethylmethacrylate into the fractures to seal them. Depending on the severity of the fractures, the doctor may need to use multiple injections to fully seal the breaks.
  • Kyphoplasty: Kyphoplasty is typically recommended for patients with more severe compression fractures. It is different from vertebroplasty in that the doctor will place a balloon directly into the area where the compression fracture is located. Per the orthopedic center, they will inflate the balloon until it is the correct size to “restore the collapsed vertebrae’s height.” The balloon’s pressure can lift the bone, which “forces the soft inner part of the bone outward, compacting it, so it creates a stable cavity in the newly opened space.” Once the open space is created, polymethylmethacrylate will be inserted to give the compression the height and volume it was missing. This procedure Both of these procedures are considered minimally invasive and last about 60 minutes. Most patients are allowed to go home within a few hours.

What challenges might I face during recovery from these two procedures?

There are several challenges that may arise during your recovery from these two procedures, such as:

  • Infections
  • Cement leaks
  • Rib or spine fractures
  • Neurologic deficits
  • Extreme blood loss
  • Allergic reactions
  • Permanent nerve damage

The greatest risk of spinal compression fractures, however, is damage to the spinal cord. A spinal cord injury can cause paralysis, and the severity of your paralysis would depend on where the SCI occurs. This injury is typically permanent, though some forms of paralysis are temporary.

If you were recently involved in a car accident, truck accident, or any other incident or accident that resulted in spinal compression fractures, the Charlotte personal injury lawyers at Price, Petho & Associates are ready and available to assist you. We know you are going through a very difficult time right now, and we are dedicated to helping you obtain maximum compensation to cover your losses, including medical costs and time out of work due to recovery. Please call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation with a member of our team today. We have offices in Rutherfordton, Rockingham, and Charlotte, and you are welcome to visit anytime you have a question or concern about your case.