Mercy's Dr. David Maine Discusses Kyphoplasty For Treating Spinal Compression Fractures
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.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.