The Percutaneous balloon kyphoplasty (PBK) is an office based procedure for the treatment of painful fractures of the spine. It is essentially an internal cast for a fracture of the spine. A special needle injects cement into the fracture to heal it and keep it from moving.
Vertebral fractures may occur as a result of trauma, spinal tumors or osteoporosis. Regardless of the cause, this type of fracture is extremely painful and can cause an otherwise healthy and active person to become immediately bed-ridden because it causes severe pain with any kind of movement.
A younger person is able to withstand any kind of fracture more easily than an older person because they tend to have more muscle mass, faster healing processes and a higher baseline level of physical condition. People who are in the geriatric group, defined as chronologically older than 65 years with special medical needs, usually do not recover to their previous level of health and activity. This is especially true with hip and vertebrae fractures. Studies show that the risk of death within 2 years of such fractures can be over 50%.
A fracture of the hip commonly undergoes a surgical procedure to stabilize the bones and hasten healing and reduce the pain. This is usually an open reduction internal fixation or ORIF procedure that fixes the fracture by realigning the bones and inserting pins to prevent fracture movement until the bones heal back together. Patients who have a fair to good level of health can be mobile within weeks of the surgery.
A vertebra fracture is not as easily fixed surgically and a more invasive procedure called a spinal fusion is performed in some cases. More often than not; however, the spine fracture is left to heal on its own. Unfortunately, healing may take 6 to 12 months to complete and during that time, minimal movements such as standing, walking, coughing, sitting and twisting are extremely painful. The pain causes people to avoid movement and deep breathing and coughing and this in turn can cause blood clots, weakness, and pneumonia, particularly in older people and those who already have health issues that put them in jeopardy of worsening.
PBK or Kyphoplasty or bone cement heals the fracture immediately. It has become a very helpful procedure because it allows patients to feel much less pain immediately and prevents spine deformity (hunched over posture) and breathing problems. After the procedure most people stop using pain medications except tylenol or anti-inflammatories, such as Advil or Aleve.
Here is a patient brochure to explain the procedure.