Advances in medical research and technology are enabling physicians who treat spinal injuries to significantly improve their patients’ quality of life. Kyphopasty is one of these advances and it is driving down long-term health care costs.
What is Kyphoplasty
Kyphoplasty is a treatment that allows me to heal spinal compression fractures so my patients can regain their quality of life. When vertebra in the spine break, they do not snap in two, as often occurs in arm or leg fractures. Instead, they crumble and collapse putting pressure on nearby nerves. The result is often excruciating pain. In addition, as they crumble further, kyphosis or spinal defomity can occur leaving a patient feeling hunched over.
By using state-of-the-art x-ray guidance, the interventional pain physician can actually restore height on the crumbled vertebrae and prevent further collapse. “We use a special catheter that is equipped with a small balloon and lead it directly to the compressed vertebra,” said National Spine and Pain Centers’ Dr. Daniel Kendall. “The balloon is inflated in the broken bone to create a void. Special bone cement is injected into the void to stabilize the vertebra. This often results in regained height so that the crumbled vertabrae no longer press on nearby nerves causing pain.”
Also known as vertebral augmentation, kyphoplasty is significantly reducing healthcare costs and improving the long-term health of patients. “With this procedure, we can eliminate the need for medications. Also, because it is performed on an out-patient basis in our office procedure suites, we eliminate the need for general anesthesia and prolonged hospital stays.”
Benefits of Kyphoplasty
Kendall says there is also another critical benefit to kyphoplasty. “By actually repairing the compressed vertebra, we can prevent what is known as the ‘downward spiral’ of back pain that can lead to a host of other problems.” He says these include spinal deformity, decreased lung capacity, impaired function, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, decreased activity, additional bone loss and increased fracture risk.
“Study after study reveals that kyphoplasty can reduce our healthcare costs and reduce patients’ risk of death from related complications,” Kendall said. “In 2018 alone, I have performed well over 100 of these procedures with tremendous success. I have had no hospital admissions within 10 days post-op of the outpatient procedure. My patients are able to receive their kyphoplasty typically the same day or next day so they can heal and enjoy relief quickly.”
Patient Success Story
The advent of kyphoplasty has drastically changed the outlook for patients who suffer from the searing pain associated with spinal compression fractures. Virginia Jenkins, one of Dr. Kendall’s patients, remembers her mother’s agony in coping with a compression fracture. When Virginia found herself with the same diagnosis, the outcome was entirely different.
“Dr. Kendall said kyphoplasty is like using super glue to repair the bone,” she said. “It is not at all like it was when my mother had her fracture. I went home right after the procedure and felt almost immediate relief. I only wish my mother could have enjoyed the same.”
With outcomes like that, it is no wonder that Dr. Kendall says kyphoplasty is his favorite interventional procedure. “One of my passions is to help people with compression fractures,” he said. “I see the benefits and direct impact kyphoplasty has on my patients. It gives them the best chance for recovery and quality of life.”
According to a 2015 Spine Article comparing a kyphoplasty patient group with a nonoperative group, the nonoperative patient population demonstrated a 55 percent higher mortality than the kyphoplasty group. It was also demonstrated that the nonoperative cohort had significantly higher risks of developing pneumonia, myocardial infarction (heart attack), cardiac complications, deep vein thrombosis and urinary tract infections compared to the kyphoplasty group.
 Edidin, Avram Allan, Kevin L. Ong, Edmund Lau, and Steven M. Kurtz. “Morbidity and Mortality after Vertebral Fracures.” Spine 40.15 (2015): 1228-241. Print.