Glenda Radkovic of Indianapolis has no idea how she fractured one of her vertebrae. All she knows is that the pain was unlike any pain she had ever experienced before. “There was no relief from this dreadful pain,” she says. “I couldn’t sit down or stand up. I couldn’t sleep. It was affecting everything I was doing.”
She tried a variety of remedies to ease the pain, but nothing worked. Finally, after six weeks, she had an MRI scan, which revealed the fractured vertebra. Then her doctor knew exactly what she needed — kyphoplasty.
Cutting-edge pain relief
“The bones in our spine break differently than a bone in our leg or arm,” explains Joseph Yedlicka, M.D., an interventional radiologist at Community Hospital East and a fellow with the Society of Interventional Radiologists.
Arm and leg bones are long and thin, and can snap like a twig. The bones of the spine (vertebrae) compress or squash down like a piece of Styrofoam. Kyphoplasty re-expands the spine’s bone and then the physician inserts bone cement into the cavity to help the bone remain expanded. Using the latest in high resolution imaging technology to pinpoint the exact location of the fracture, the physician inserts two hollow needles into the patient’s back on either side of the fractured vertebra. Then balloon catheters are inserted through the needles to re-expand the bone.
A high success rate
Dr. Yedlicka has done hundreds of kyphoplasty procedures. “Patients are as grateful as they can be,” he says. Radkovic calls the procedure a miracle. “I never had any more pain from that day on,” she says.
“The procedure has a high success rate, with patients reporting 95 percent to 98 percent pain relief,” Dr. Yedlicka says, noting that many of his patients previously had been bedridden or confined to wheelchairs because of the pain.
Kyphoplasty takes about an hour. Patients lie on their stomach during the procedure and receive conscious sedation, not general anesthesia, but they feel nothing. After the kyphoplasty is complete, patients must rest in bed for six to eight hours. Then they are free to go home with no additional restrictions.
Osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones, causes the majority of compression fractures. Cancer can cause vertebrae to break, and some patients are at higher risk for fractures because of long-term steroid use for treating conditions such as asthma.
People with spinal compression fractures have a higher risk for additional fractures. Dr. Yedlicka can repair up to three fractures at one time. Kyphoplasty can be repeated for as many fractures as needed.
Make an appointment
To find out more about kyphoplasty or make an appointment with an Irvington radiologist, call 317-621-5555.