May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention month. The World Health Organization recently cited osteoporosis as second only to cardiovascular disease as a leading international healthcare problem. Yet, for the 44 million Americans at risk for osteoporosis, many are often unaware that they have the disease until they fracture a bone. In the U.S., according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, each year 700,000 patients suffer from spinal fractures due to osteoporosis.
Once a patient suffers one vertebral compression fracture, the risk of suffering a second fracture increases five-fold. Left unattended, many fractures can result in an exaggerated rounded curvature of the spine, called kyphosis or dowager’s hump. This condition is painful and debilitating--making walking, eating, sleeping or even breathing painful and difficult. Long-term, this condition could be fatal. Unfortunately, more than 400,000 of these fractures go undiagnosed and untreated due in part to lack of awareness about osteoporosis and available treatment options.
Ken Price, MD, neurosurgeon, has performed more than 40 Kyphoplasty® procedures at Durham Regional Hospital to treat spinal fractures due to osteoporosis. Kyphoplasty® provides a minimally-invasive option first performed in 1999 and approved as an indicated procedure for spinal fractures in 2004 by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The procedure is designed to correct spinal deformity due to fractures, significantly reducing back pain and improving a patient’s ability to return to daily activities.
“Kyphoplasty® is a quick procedure that is 90-95 percent effective in providing pain relief. It can result in spine realignment and increased height with virtually no pain or recovery time,” says Price.
During the Kyphoplasty® procedure, two orthopaedic balloons are inserted into the vertebra through two small incisions. The balloons inflate and push the collapsed portion of the vertebra bone apart. This restores the fractured bone toward its original shape. The balloons are removed and the resulting space is filled with a type of bone cement. “This procedure is great,” says Arthur Carpenter, who had the Kyphoplasty® procedure recently at Durham Regional Hospital. “Before, my pain was unbearable and I couldn’t sleep. I don’t have nearly as much pain now, and I could tell an immediate difference.”
According to Price, Kyphoplasty® repairs vertebral compression fractures and can restore the vertebrae to the correct position, reducing back pain, reducing the number of days in bed, significantly improving mobility and increasing overall quality of life. The procedure generally takes less than one hour per fracture and has been performed under both local and general anesthesia. Kyphoplasty® is fully covered by most insurances, and Medicare covers approximately 90 percent. Typically a 24-hour hospital stay is required.
Kyphoplasty® is performed at Durham Regional Hospital by Ken Price, Regional Neurosurgery, P.L.L.C., Robert Yankes and Steve Loehr, of Durham Radiology Associates; and Ralph Liebelt and David Musante at Triangle Orthopaedic Associates, P.A.