Lifting a weight, a rough movement, sometimes only bending too much while making the bed. – all these activities that may seem normal, can cause the vertebral body to collapse. Some people are affected by painful vertebral compression fractures, which can cause persistent back pain, a posture change, impaired mobility and a general physical ageing. There is a new treatment option for those people at risk, patients affected by osteoporosis or by other conditions that weaken the bone – A new available technique which achieves pain reduction and spinal deformity correction: Balloon Kyphoplasty.
What causes vertebral fractures? – Osteoporosis is one of the most common causes of vertebral compression fractures. Also named as the “silent” disease which today, due to the increasing age of the world’s population, has become more and more common. Following recent studies, it has been forecasted that in Europe 40% of women (8 out of 20) and 15% of middle aged men (3 out of 20) will suffer from one or more osteoporotic fractures. These numbers are as shocking as the number of new osteoporotic fractures which occur in Europe: 1 every 30 seconds. VCFs can also be caused by a traumatic event, such as a fall or an accident or by certain types of cancer: multiple myeloma, as well as metastasis from cancers such as breast, lung, bladder, kidney, prostate. Long-term steroidal therapies such as used in dermatologic or allergologic pathologies, treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or in post-organ transplants can cause VCFs. People with a VCF, usually do not realize as the symptoms are comparable with normal back pain, despite the persistence of it and an even more accentuated thoraco-lumbar deformity. An early diagnosis, within the first months, after the traumatic event, would guarantee a well-timed treatment such as Balloon Kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive technique which relieves the pain and corrects most of the deformity. An incorrect treated vertebral compression fracture increases 5 times the risk of subsequent fractures, thus compromising the patient’s Quality of Life and the health system related costs.
When suffering from back pain due to a vertebral compression fracture, the patient is usually treated conservatively and he is prescribed a brace, bed rest and pain medication. Such a solution is not always improving the patient’s Quality of Life, as pain can last for various months and moreover the patient doesn’t regain the correct posture. Balloon Kyphoplasty, a safe procedure, provides immediate pain relief and ensures a good height restoration of the vertebra.
Balloon Kyphoplasty, details – Balloon Kyphoplasty is a surgical technique aimed at solving those problems bound to a vertebral compression fracture – pain, difficulties in moving, kyphosis and posture changes – ensuring a better quality of life to patients.
The surgical procedure takes about one hour and it may be done under local or general anesthesia, depending on the clinical conditions of the patient. The main characteristic of this procedure is a small balloon that is introduced in the vertebral body under continuous fluoroscopic guidance by the specialist, once inflated, the balloon can restore the height of the vertebral body nearly as it was in its origin. The bone cement is introduced only when the vertebra has been restored and its distribution is uniform thanks to the bilateral access. The patient will remain under observation after the procedure to a maximum of 24 hours.
Benefits – Various scientific outcomes show the numerous advantages related to this surgical procedure. First of all, as shown in comparative studies, a 65% reduction of risk of subsequent fractures compared to the conservative treatment. It is indeed a characteristic of this technique to have a preventive action apart from the therapeutic one; a non-treated VCF brings discomfort and predisposes to the risk of subsequent fractures. The patient feels immediate pain relief and his spinal column conditions are restored like before the fracture. The by the size of the cavity pre-defined doses of injected bone cement ensure superior safety, as this prevents the doctor to inoculate the wrong quantity. The bone cement is more viscous than in other procedures and this guarantees less risks of leakage, in sensible areas inside and outside the vertebra. Moreover, continuous control under fluoroscopic guide is carried out, in order to constantly monitor the procedure.
Saving health related costs – Balloon Kyphoplasty gives immediate pain relief and prevents risk of subsequent fractures, thus significantly reducing the use of pain killer and FANS medication, besides the limited number of medical visits or exams.