Balloons and Cement: the Unlikely Solution to Spinal Fractures

November 23, 2017 05:31 PM

For six months, Sarah Greene's back pain was so severe that something as simple as taking a walk was excruciating. 

She has a compressed spine fracture on her L5 vertebra. She tried a brace, medication and bed rest without success.

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"It was so painful," Greene said. "It affected sitting, standing, walking, everything you have to do to get through your day."

RELATED: Minnesota Legislature Steps Up for Spinal Cord Research

Greene tried a procedure called Balloon Kyphoplasty, a minimally-invasive procedure that uses balloons and cement to fix the fracture. Two pencil-sized needles make a pathway to the fracture, and a balloon is slowly inflated to raise the collapsed bone into it's normal position. Once the bone is in the correct position, the cavity is filled with orthopaedic cement to stabilize it.

Dr. Hart Garner with Metropolitan Neurosurgery says the results are immediate.

"It's something where they can leave the hospital or clinic within a couple hours," he said.

In Greene's case, she was home in four hours and was back on her feet in two days.

"It was amazing," she said. "Literally within two days I bought myself a new pair of walking shoes and have been out with my husband every day."

The balloons commonly used for the procedure are made by Medtronic, which is headquartered in the Twin Cities.

Credits

Ellen Galles

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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