Vertebral compression fractures caused by osteoporosis

Correction of vertebral fractures by kyphoplasty

Patients with osteoporosis have a higher risk of contracting a fractured pulse, hip or vertebra, mostly in an ordinary fall. Osteoporosis frequently occurs in the older age group, mostly in women after the menopause. Vertebral compression fractures cause serious back pains. The treatment includes bed rest, pain relief and possibly wearing a corset. Mostly, the pain disappears after a few weeks. Of course, the osteoporosis itself must be treated with medication (consult your GP).

However, sometimes a conservative approach will not suffice: the pain doesn’t go away and cannot be controlled or the compression of vertebra deteriorates. This can be monitored by regularly, in the beginning on a weekly basis, making a check-up X-ray of the spinal column.

In such cases, balloon vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty is recommended.

This is a surgical technique in which in a minimally invasive way a fractured vertebra can be repaired by injecting a special type of bone cement.

How is such balloon vertebroplasty carried out?

The procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia. Two cannulae (hollow tubes) are led from the back into the fractured vertebra. This can be done safely by continuously making X-ray images during the surgery itself. Then, through these hollow tubes, a balloon is pushed into the vertebra and blown up. This way, the vertebra can be repaired from within, it is 'jacked up' as it were, creating a cavity. After having removed the balloons, this cavity is filled with semi-liquid cement. By creating this cavity and using this almost solid cement, one avoids that the cement runs on beyond the vertebra or into the blood circulation.
Comment une vertébroplastie par ballonnet est-elle pratiquée ?

The cement fully sets in a couple of hours and 12 hours later the patient can get up.

The results in patients with ‘compressed’ vertebrae are excellent: patients have considerably less pain and the further compressing is also stopped, which otherwise might even result in a distinct hunchback.

Kyphoplasty for treating vertebral compression fractures caused by osteoporosis is under certain conditions fully covered by the national health insurance.

This technique can also be applied in case of vertebral fractures on patients without osteoporosis. See traumatic vertebral fractures.

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