Question:My father had a kyphoplasty yesterday for back pain caused by a vertebral compression fracture. This morning he's complaining of worse pain and leg weakness. He can hardly stand up. We're waiting for the doctor to check him out. Is this a common problem after the surgery?
Answer:Kyphoplasty is the injection of a liquid cement into the broken vertebral bone. The cement seeps into the fracture lines and hardens. With a kyphoplasty, the surgeon inserts a deflated balloon inside the vertebral body first before injecting the cement.
After inflating the balloon, then the cement is injected inside the balloon. The effect is to restore the vertebral heighth and shape. This operation is being used more and more because of its success rate. Many patients get pain relief without any problems.
But in a small number of patients, complications can occur. The most common early problem is irritation of the nerve tissue from the cement. If it oozes back out of the vertebral body and comes in contact with the spinal cord or spinal nerve, acute (immediate) symptoms can occur. The patient reports symptoms similar to what your father is experiencing.
There are other possible causes for these type of symptoms. Once your father's physician has a chance to examine him and review the records, you may have a better idea of what's going on.
Further treatment may be needed. It may be necessary to go in and remove any remaining cement. In some cases, the cement just isn't enough and a spinal fusion is needed.Alpesh A. Patel, MD, et al. Neurologic Deficit Following Percutaneous Vertebral Stabilization. In Spine. July 15, 2007. Vol. 32. No. 16. Pp. 1728-1734.
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