Balloon Kyphoplasty: Help for spinal fractures 
Friday, 04 August 2006 
Regular exercise and good nutrition may help you live a long, healthy life. But if you’re not paying attention to your bones, life could be very uncomfortable. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue. It can lead to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures of the hip, spine and wrist.

Osteoporosis is a major threat for 28 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women, and it can strike at any age. Also, osteoporosis causes more than 700,000 spinal fractures each year in the U.S. – more than twice the annual number of hip fractures, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Some cancers may even lead to spinal fractures by weakening the bone and causing pain, says the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

At Hilton Head Regional Medical Center, physicians are using balloon kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive, orthopaedic procedure, to treat pain resulting from some spinal fractures. Left untreated, these painful fractures may result in a condition called kyphosis, or rounded back. Kyphosis, signified by a stooped posture, can compress the chest and abdominal cavity, which may result in negative consequences.

During the procedure, orthopaedic balloons are used to gently raise the collapsed vertebra in an attempt to return them to the correct position. Through a small incision, the balloon is guided through the instrument into the vertebra and is inflated to create a void or cavity in the vertebral body. Once the vertebra is in the correct position, the balloon is deflated and removed. The cavity is filled with bone cement forming an internal cast to support the surrounding bone and prevent further collapse.

The procedure typically takes about one hour per fracture and may require an overnight hospital stay. Although balloon kyphoplasty is designed to minimize potential surgical risks, there is a chance that complications could occur. Patients should discuss all possible risks with their physicians and to see if they are a candidate for the procedure.
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