Molly Tanner, Marketing Coordinator for Orthopaedic & Spine Center on Kyphoplasty
As a marketing coordinator for the Orthopaedic & Spine Center, I spend a lot of time in our community telling people what services OSC offers and what our physicians do on a daily basis. I talk about different treatment options, procedures, physical therapy, MRIs, and more.
One procedure that I find most interesting is called vertebral augmentation, or kyphoplasty. Last summer, Medicare agreed to cover this procedure in “qualifying facilities” other than a hospital operating room. OSC is a qualifying facility because we have a special X-Ray machine called a fluoroscope. This allows for real time X-Ray, similar to an ultrasound, but using different technology.
We have two physicians who perform in-office kyphoplasties at OSC, Dr. Mark McFarland and Dr. Raj Sureja. A kyphoplasty is a procedure done for compression fractures of the spine. Compression fractures can be caused by osteoarthritis, traumatic injury, or cancer (such as myeloma which compromises the strength of the bone). Click here for more information.
I watched Dr. McFarland do a kyphoplasty in our office a couple weeks ago. The patient was an elderly gentleman, who came into our office in a wheelchair due to his pain and discomfort. Dr. McFarland and his Medical Assistant (MA) helped the patient onto the table on his stomach. Dr. McFarland numbed the area of the back near the fracture with local anesthesia, made a small incision (approximately 3 millimeters), and performed the kyphoplasty.
The actual procedure consists of inserting a balloon into the fractured vertebra. The doctor inflates the balloon to create a void, then, the balloon is deflated and removed, leaving the void where the balloon was. The void is then filled with a special cement which forms an internal cast. The doctor places a small bandage over the incision (no stitches required), and the patient stays on the table for a few more minutes to allow the cement to harden. All of this is done under X-ray guidance, allowing for precise placement.
The patient was awake and alert the entire time. One MA sat close to the patient’s head so she could talk him through the procedure and also distract him with conversation about things other than the procedure. After the patient sat and recovered for a few more minutes, he was free to leave. He walked out of OSC, on his way to pain relief, increased mobility and improved quality of life!