Cement Leakage Could Explain Post-Kyphoplasty Pain

Kyphoplasty is considered a safe and effective treatment for spinal compression fractures, especially in patients suffering from osteoporosis. However, there are limited cases in which patients continue to experience pain. Some show an elevated risk of future fractures in neighboring vertebrae. Now, a study out of China suggests that the culprit might be cement leakage.

Additional research is necessary to verify the findings. But if it is true, preventing cement leakage ought to be simple enough. Doing so could make kyphoplasty even more effective for stabilizing the spine and providing much needed relief from chronic back pain.

More About Spinal Compression Fractures

A spinal compression fracture occurs when one of the bones in the spinal column collapses. This is a common problem for osteoarthritis patients whose bones are naturally brittle. A collapsed, or compressed, vertebrae leads to pain as nerves are also compressed. Kyphoplasty is a therapy designed to reverse the compression.

Without proper treatment, spinal compression fractures lead to poor posture and increased paying. They also lead to muscle weakness. A series of successive fractures in neighboring vertebrae can render a patient immobile in the most serious cases. Obviously, chronic pain is a major problem for patients with multiple fractures.

How Kyphoplasty Works

Kyphoplasty is a procedure patients can look into at Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, TX. Lone Star doctors say that the procedure is simple enough to understand. Once imaging has revealed the affected vertebrae, a cannula is utilized to insert a small balloon into the cavity created by the fracture. The balloon is then inflated to return the compressed joint to its normal size and shape.

Next, the balloon is removed, and the larger cavity is filled with bone cement. Once cured, the cement makes the previously compressed vertebrae stable once again. Pain relief generally follows. In some cases, however, patients continue experiencing back pain. That is where the previously mentioned study comes in.

Evidence of Cement Leakage

Researchers at Beijing Friendship Hospital hoped to understand the limits of kyphoplasty as well as why some patients continued experiencing pain. They looked at several patients, including a 71-year-old woman who showed evidence of cement leakage following kyphoplasty. The researchers constructed several 3D finite element models of the woman’s spine and then studied them.

Their suspicion of cement leakage proved to be accurate, at least based on the images they constructed. Furthermore, the researchers noticed that the leaked cement was putting pressure on a neighboring vertebra. They say this partly explains why the patient continued to feel back pain after the procedure.

Researchers extrapolated to conclude that cement leakage not only can lead to additional pain but can also contribute to fractures in neighboring vertebrae. The issue is that the leaked cement puts pressure on both nerves and vertebrae. It hardens and cures exceptionally well, so it’s a tough substance. It is easy to see how the cement could cause problems if it leaked into neighboring joints.

Design a Containment System

The basic concept of kyphoplasty is brilliant in its simplicity. It offers relief for so many osteoporosis patients that it is worth every effort to make the procedure more effective. Based on the Chinese research, one avenue for improving kyphoplasty could be designing a containment system to prevent leaks.

If cement leakage truly does contribute to ongoing pain while also increasing the risks for future fractures, designing a containment system seems to be the next logical step in improving kyphoplasty efficacy. Contain the cement to prevent leakage and you have a therapy that does what it’s designed to do without causing problems in neighboring vertebrae.

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