Nonunion Osteoporosis Fractures Effectively Treated by Balloon Kyphoplasty

Pain Improves After Minimally Invasive Procedure, Study Finds

Patients who had kyphoplasty surgery for nonunion vertebral compression fractures experienced improvements in pain and disc height, according to a new study supporting this minimally-invasive treatment for fractures caused by osteoporosis.

As detailed in January's Orthopedics, this study involved a pool of 200 patients who underwent kyphoplasty surgery for osteoporotic fractures that failed to merge or heal and were thus described as nonunion.

Approximately 21 of these patients with nonunion fractures were chosen for this study, with criteria including but not limited to having pain for at least 6 months. More specifically, 13 patients had a vertebral fracture in the lower back (lumbar spine) while the other 8 patients suffered a fracture in the mid back (thoracic spine).

New Study Results:

New information is available from a clinical trial on balloon kyphoplasty. Read our review of the findings here:

Balloon Kyphoplasty

Under general anesthesia, the patients had kyphoplasty surgery that involved a small incision, the insertion of a balloon inside the fractured vertebrae to restore bone height, and the injection of cement to stabilize the fracture.

Followed up for 9 to 33 months after surgery, the patients reported postoperative reductions in pain and disability. While not returning to normal, vertebral height also significantly improved following kyphoplasty.

Based on this last finding, the study concluded that balloon kyphoplasty, better reduces the risk of kyphosis, an unnatural curvature of the spine that can lead to a hunchback appearance, when compared to vertebroplasty, a minimally-invasive procedure that includes cement injections but does not use a balloon when treating vertebral fractures.

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