Mercy's Dr. David Maine Discusses Kyphoplasty For Treating Spinal Compression Fractures

September 30, 2013
Dr. Maine

Mercy’s Dr. David Maine, Director, The Center for Interventional Pain Medicine

Spinal compression fractures are fairly common as people age, and while they heal without the need for surgery most of the time, that's not always the case.

A spinal compression fracture happens when several vertebrae are broken in the spine.

It's something Judith Gunnery knows a lot about. She was trying to corral her dog when she took a bad fall.

"I fell back, hit my head, went flat on my back, and I never knew such pain. I went to the emergency room, and they told me I had a compression fracture of L1," she said, referring to a fracture in a particular part of the spine.

At first, Gunnery was given pain medication and advised to rest, but when her spine wouldn't heal, she decided to try surgery. Dr. David Maine, Director, The Center for Interventional Pain Medicine at Mercy Medical Center, performed the surgery known as percutaneous kyphoplasty, which is basically where a bone cement is injected into the fractured vertebrae.

"The cement percolates through all the little fractured crevices. It hardens very quickly, and it stabilizes that fracture so there's no more micro-movement of the bone," Dr.  Maine explained.

In most cases surgery isn't recommended.

"Most of the time it's just not necessary. We can manage patients who suffer acute symptomatic compression fractures with conservative care, but when conservative care fails and the pain is overwhelming and debilitating to the patient, then this can be a good option, assuming all the puzzle pieces fit and it's the right clinical choice," Dr. Maine said.

It was a good choice for Gunnery. The outpatient surgery was quick, and she said she felt better right away.

"I could feel relief from it. It was probably instant relief, I'd say, because the bone was strong again," she said.

"That's one of the most gratifying things with this procedure. Often, as soon as they emerge from anesthesia, their back pain can be gone, if not significantly improved," Dr. Maine said.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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