Surgery helps fix spinal fractures

Balloon kyphoplasty helps patients dealing with osteoporosis

MIAMI - A cutting edge spinal surgery can help patients dealing with osteoporosis feel better almost overnight.

Each year, more than 700,000 people suffer painful spinal factures. Dr. Antonio Prats said osteoporosis is often to blame.

"Osteoporosis is poor bone mass or low bone mass from that the bones are not strong, they are brittle," he said. "I've had patients with a little gesture or a cough. It's enough to cause a fracture."

Miriam Rodriguez stumbled in her home, causing her to break her back. The 65-year-old accountant could barely breathe.

"What I am feeling is big, strong back pain, especially here in my back," she said. "I can't move it. I can't move it to the side. It was incredible."

Instead of going on bed rest and wearing a back brace, Rodriguez underwent a balloon kyphoplasty.

"The bone is compressed, so the idea is to put a balloon in that fracture and elevate the fracture," said Prats.

Surgeons attempt to put the bone back in the correct position by making a cavity with the inflated balloon.

"That cavity stays in there so you can deflate the balloon, take the balloon out, and inject the cement," said Prats.

Having the procedure done in a timely manner is important, said Prats. If a patient takes too long, the bone can harden and heal in the wrong position.

Rodriguez said the pain went away when she woke up.

"Unbelievable. I never expected nothing like that," she said.

"It's so rewarding for me as a surgeon because the patients literally go in with excruciating pain and wake up and say wow," added Prats.

The procedure takes less than an hour and can be performed under a local anesthetic.

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