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Washington County Health System
  Balloon Kyphoplasty


Doctors have found an innovative way to treat spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis or cancer: balloon kyphoplasty.

Osteoporosis, in which bones become fragile and easily broken, causes over 700,000 spinal fractures annually in the U.S.—more fractures than in the hip and wrist combined. Approximately two-thirds of all spinal fractures go undiagnosed or untreated due to the absence of symptoms or difficulty determining the cause of symptoms, leading some to call osteoporosis a “silent disease.”

Remarkably, 50% of women and 25% of men older than fifty will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Through proper diagnosis and treatment, patients with spinal fractures can significantly improve their ability to perform normal activities of daily living and enjoy an overall improvement in their quality of life.

  Fractured vertebra or vertebral compression fracture (VCF)

Spinal fractures can also be caused by cancer, the most common being multiple myeloma. According to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, the majority of patients with multiple myeloma develop osteolytic lesions which weaken the bone, causing pain and increasing the risk of fractures.

Some spinal fractures may collapse quickly while others collapse more slowly. Left untreated, one fracture can lead to subsequent fractures, often resulting in a condition called kyphosis, or rounded back. Kyphosis, signified by the dowager’s hump, can compress the chest and abdominal cavity, which may result in negative health consequences. Over time, this curvature becomes more pronounced, painful, and debilitating.

Traditional treatments for patients with spinal fractures include bed rest, medication, and back bracing. While these therapies may help to decrease a patient’s pain over time, they do not treat the deformity related to osteoporotic fractures.

Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure designed to treat spinal fractures. It can be performed under local or general anesthesia and typically takes about one hour to treat each fracture. In some cases, it may require an overnight hospital stay. To date, over 150,000 patients and 175,000 spinal fractures have been treated worldwide with balloon kyphoplasty.

This procedure can restore vertebral body height, significantly reduce back pain, and increase mobility, often shortly after the procedure. In addition to reducing pain, patients experience an increased ability to return to simple, everyday activities such as walking, reaching, bending, and lifting. Patients also report improved and sustained vitality, social function, and emotional health.

The Procedure

Through two small incisions, the doctor creates narrow pathways into the fractured bone and inserts two KyphX® balloons. The balloons are carefully inflated in an attempt to raise the collapsed vertebra, returning it to its normal position. This process creates a cavity within the vertebra. The balloons are then deflated and removed, and the cavity is filled with bone cement to stabilize the fracture.

Incision sites after balloon kyphoplasty.


The balloon kyphoplasty procedure typically takes about one hour per fracture and may require an overnight hospital stay. The procedure can be done using either local or general anesthesia; the surgeon will determine the most appropriate method, based on the patient’s overall condition.

In most cases, Medicare provides coverage for balloon kyphoplasty. Other insurance plans may also cover the procedure.

To Obtain a Referral

If you have a spinal fracture, ask your doctor if he or she believes a balloon kyphoplasty would  be an appropriate treatment.  There are two surgical practices performing the procedure at  Washington County Hospital  - Robinwood Orthopaedic Specialty Center and Parkway Neuroscience and Spine Institute.

For more information call 301-790-8627 or contact the spine surgeons on the medical staff of Washington County Hospital.

John Caruso, MD Parkway Neuroscience and Spine Institute 301-797-9240
Brian Holmes, MD Parkway Neuroscience and Spine Institute 301-797-9240
Neil O’Malley, MD Parkway Neuroscience and Spine Institute 301-797-9240
Dinakar Murthi, MD   Robinwood Orthopaedic Specialty Center 301-665-4950

Some of the material used in this site is owned by KYPHON® of Sunnyvale, California, and is used with permission.


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Washington County Health System
251 East Antietam Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740

TDD: 1-800-735-2258