DMC Interventional Radiologist Doctor Bruce Wolf uses minimally invasive surgery called balloon kyphoplasty to bring relief to a patient suffering from severe back pain caused by spinal compression fractures.
Orthopedic “Balloon” Relieves Back Pain After Minimally Invasive Procedure
About 150,000 people are hospitalized each year due to compression fractures of the spine. Many of them are elderly patients who are at particular risk due to osteoporosis. However, relief from pain is available at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital through a minimally invasive outpatient procedure called “balloon kyphoplasty.”
Eighty-five-year-old Eleanor Shefski swears by it. “I had picked up a 25-pound box of kitty litter, but it slipped out of my hands, my arm went down and something went wrong with my back,” said
Shefski. “I really didn’t think much about it until a couple of days later when I started having back pain all the time.”
Shefski had suffered the compression fracture of four vertebrae – a collapse of bone in the spine. She eventually contacted Dr. Bruce Wolf, an interventional radiologist at the DMC’s Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital.
“Back pain from this type of injury can be so severe and debilitating,” said Dr. Wolf, “that patients can’t tie their shoes, or can’t stand up to do the dishes, or get stuck in bed, or all of the above.”
Dr. Wolf told Shefski that she was a good candidate for the minimally invasive balloon kyphoplasty procedure, which involves the implantation of balloons to gently elevate affected bone fragments in order to return them to the proper position. At her advanced age, however, Shefski had some fears about paralysis.
“I wanted assurance that I would be able to walk for at least five or 10 more years,” she said. “Dr. Wolf said he’d done the procedure many times and that there was no need for me to fear being paralyzed in my limbs.”
With Shefski under local anesthesia, Dr. Wolf made a tiny, 1-centimeter incision and used a hollow instrument to create a small pathway into the fractured bone. A small balloon was guided through the instrument into the vertebra. Next, the balloon was inflated to raise the collapsed vertebra and return it to its normal position. The balloon was then deflated and removed. Finally, the cavity was filled with a special cement to support the surrounding bone and prevent collapse. The cement forms an internal cast that holds the vertebra in place.
“The overwhelming majority of patients get immediate relief, or their pain is significantly different in 24 to 36 hours,” says Dr. Wolf.
Shefski, who went home the same day, said, “I’m very happy. Who knows how many years I have left, but at least I know I will enjoy them.”
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Wolf, call 1-888-DMC-2500.