My mom has fallen many times. One of her falls caused a fracture in a vertebra in her lower back. She was in excruciating pain. Dr. Murphy suggested a procedure called Balloon Kyphoplasty. I had never heard of it though later when I told my friend she said her father had it done. It is called a minimally invasive treatment for these types of fractures (compression). My friend told me that it took her father a couple of weeks for the effect of the treatment to kick in; however, Dr. Murphy said my mom would feel relief immediately if it worked. Having this done was never an option we would have refused because my mom was in so much pain but in addition if she had not had this done it could have changed the shape of her spine and as it is she is crooked!
My mom has osteoporosis which causes bones to become brittle. Her last fall involved a fractured knee which has healed. When she fell and hurt her vertabra she had an MRI (magnetic resonance imagining) so the doctor would know exactly where the fracture was. The reason it is called Balloon Kyphoplasty is because balloons are used to raise the vertebra that is fractured trying to get it back in the right place.
The doctor used a medical device to make a small path into the fractured area. Then a special balloon is guided through the medical device into the vertebra. The site of the incision is tiny. I never did see it. Then the balloon is blown up and this hopefully will raise the vertebra. My mom’s procedure was done under general anesthesia but some doctors will do it under local anesthesia. It took less than an hour and she stayed in the hospital for a few days. Some doctors might release you the next day.
The vertebra we hope is in the right position because then the balloon is deflated and taken out. There is now a hole in the vertebra which gets filled with cement (It’s special cement!) to support the bone. We kept joking that my mom was having her back glued together.
There are always risks to any procedure but my mom sailed through it. Unfortunately she claimed no difference in pain. The procedure was deemed a failure. After a few days of physical therapy she was sent home with narcotics. In a week or so though she really didn’t realize it because my mom doesn’t remember all that well she was pain free! She didn’t even remember the pain she was in and if asked today she wouldn’t remember the fracture. Maybe that is a good thing. My conclusion is that this procedure absolutely worked but listening to doctors isn’t always the right choice to make. We have to do our own research. If I hadn’t I would have been very discouraged that she wasn’t pain free the next day.
Medicare covered this procedure completely.