Vertebral/Spinal or Compression Fracture
Vertebral compression fracture is a fracture of the vertebrae (bones of the spine) that eventually causes the collapse of that vertebral body. Typically located in the thoracic and lumbar spine, these fractures are extremely common. One fourth of all post menopausal women experience this type of pain and complication. As age increases, complications from these fractures can become a major risk factor such as decreased ability to breathe resulting in pneumonia. It was initially thought that hip fractures were associated in increased morbidity and mortality, however vertebral fractures are being recognized as also a major contributor to morbidity and mortality especially since the average age of our elderly population continues to rise. Along with age, complications can occur when the upper body weight exceeds the ability the vertebrae has to support the load. Men are affected by this condition, but it is most commonly seen in women.
Alternatively, many people who are diagnosed with various cancers or malignancies can also develop fractures of the spine. These fractures tend to be extremely painful and although radiation treatments and chemotherapy may rid the body of the tumor, these bones are extremely fragile resulting in worsening of the fracture or possible collapse of other vertebral levels due to the new stress placed on them. There are several ways to treat vertebral compression fractures, although typically the best way is by receiving vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty. Vertebroplasty is a procedure that involves the injection of acrylic cement into the fractured vertebral bone in order to stabilize and strengthen the vertebrae. Kyphoplasty is a method that is newer and involves placing an inflatable balloon into the vertebral body. Once the balloon is inflated, it creates a space in the center of the vertebrae where the acrylic cement is then injected. Dr. Qamar Khan is among the select few physicians in the state of Utah that perform these Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty procedures for our patients.