Nancy is one of more than 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, a disease marked by porous, brittle bones that can break more easily than healthy bones. Women over 50 have a 1-in-2 chance of breaking a bone due to osteoporosis.1
Osteoporosis is sometimes called a “silent disease” because it has no symptoms before a fracture occurs.2 That’s what happened to Nancy.
“I was walking in a parking lot, and I stepped on something that tripped me up,” says Nancy, 73, “and I fell very hard.”
The fall caused Nancy severe pain that seemed to radiate from her spine around to her chest and down through her legs.
“It was hard to pinpoint exactly,” she says, “but it seemed to be more in my spine.”
When the pain didn’t go away after a few days, Nancy visited an urgent care clinic.
“They said it was bruised ribs. They took an X-ray, but not of my spine. They put me on some muscle relaxers, which didn’t really help much.”
The pain never went away – in fact, it kept getting worse.
“I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t do anything, I was basically house-bound and couch-bound, I couldn’t drive, nothing.”
Nancy says she finally broke down and told her husband to take her to the emergency room.
“I said, ‘Please, X-ray my spine!’”
The ER doctors found the source of Nancy’s unrelenting pain: a compression fracture of her T9 vertebra – in other words, a broken back.
Vertebral compression fractures, or VCFs, like Nancy’s are the most common broken bone caused by osteoporosis. They occur more than 800,000 times a year in the U.S.3
Nancy went to see an interventional radiologist who ordered an MRI to get a better look at Nancy’s spine.
Because her fracture was still acute and her pain was a 10 out of 10, the radiologist recommended she undergo Balloon Kyphoplasty (BKP).
Balloon Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of spinal fractures due to osteoporosis, cancer, or non-cancerous tumors.3 The radiologist punctured Nancy’s back with a needle to insert a tiny balloon into the damaged vertebra. He then used a pump to inflate the balloon and restore the original height of the vertebra. Then he injected acrylic bone cement into the balloon to create an internal cast to repair the fracture.
The procedure takes only about an hour. It typically requires only local anesthesia, and it’s often done on an outpatient basis in a clinic or office.
Medtronic developed balloon kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that reduces and stabilizes VCF related to osteoporosis, cancer or non-cancerous tumors. Since the initial technology launched in 1998, Medtronic has developed better balloons, an improved cement delivery system and added access tools shown to reduce hand radiation exposure for the surgeon. Over the years, studies comparing balloon kyphoplasty to non-surgical management have shown balloon kyphoplasty produced better pain relief and quality of life for patients with acute VCF compared to patients treated with non-surgical management.4-6
Although the complication rate for BKP is low, as with most surgical procedures, serious adverse events, some of which can be fatal, can occur, including heart attack, cardiac arrest (heart stops beating), stroke, and embolism (blood, fat, or cement that migrates to the lungs or heart). Other risks include infection; leakage of bone cement into the muscle and tissue surrounding the spinal cord and nerve injury that can, in rare instances, cause paralysis; leakage of bone cement into the blood vessels resulting in damage to the blood vessels, lungs, and/or heart.3
Nancy said she had a dramatic improvement in her pain.
“I was able to exercise in the pool, and I was able to drive again and resume my normal activities: grocery shop, the usual. I would absolutely recommend Balloon Kyphoplasty to someone who needs it.”
1. US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service,
Office of the Surgeon General. Bone health and osteoporosis: A
report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US GPO; 2004, p.
436. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/
2. National Osteoporosis Website. https://www.nof.org/patients/
3. Medtronic Data on File.
4. Berenson J, Pflugmacher R, Jarzem P, et al. Balloon kyphoplasty
versus non-surgical fracture management for treatment of painful
vertebral body compression fractures in patients with cancer: a
multicentre, randomised controlled trial. Lancet Oncol. 2011
5. Boonen S, Van Meirhaeghe J, Bastian L, et al. Balloon
kyphoplasty for the treatment of acute vertebral compression
fractures: 2-year results from a randomized trial. J Bone Miner
6. Van Meirhaeghe J, Bastian L, Boonen S, et al. A randomized trial
of balloon kyphoplasty and nonsurgical management for treating
acute vertebral compression fractures: vertebral body kyphosis
correction and surgical parameters. Spine. 2013;38(12),971-983.
UC202106233EN VCF Patient Story Buffalo, NY FY21