People who work from heights are at great risk of falling, which could cause a fracture in a vertebra. Fortunately, a back injury involving a vertebral compression fracture can be repaired with kyphoplasty, which is a minimally invasive procedure. However, anytime there is a spinal cord injury, syringomyelia may develop. Here's what you need to know if you are scheduled for kyphoplasty to repair a compression fracture in a vertebra.
Kyphoplasty for a Vertebral Compression Fracture
A kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure to correct the wedge-shaped fractured vertebra, which can cause a spinal cord injury. In this procedure, a balloon is inserted into the fractured vertebra to expand it until it reaches its normal height. Then, bone cement is put in the space that was created by the balloon. After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Depending on your specific needs, you may spend a day in the hospital. If you are released the same day as the surgical procedure, you'll need to have someone drive you home.
Syringomyelia Can Develop After Spine Injury
Syringomyelia is a progressive condition that causes the formation of a cyst inside the spinal cord. A cyst fills with cerebral spinal fluid and is referred to as a syrinx in the medical community. A syrinx can block the normal flow of your cerebral spinal fluid, which can lead to paralysis, coma, or death if it's allowed to progress.
Syringomyelia can be congenital or caused by an injury, like when a vertebra is fractured. When it's caused by an injury, it typically begins at the site of the injury where there is scarring on the spinal cord, which can occur when someone falls from a tall height. Research shows that symptoms of syringomyelia can develop anywhere from 3 months to 32 years following an injury to the spinal cord.
Due to the time that it may take to develop syringomyelia and the seriousness of this condition, it's crucial for you to know what symptoms to watch for.
- pain and stiffness in your neck, back, arms, and legs
- muscle spasms and weakness in your legs
- pain and numbness in your face
- bladder and bowel problems
At the first sign of these symptoms, you should have an MRI done of your full spine. If a syrinx is seen, a neurosurgeon will also want to see the fluid movement in your spine. This is done with a video recording called a cine MRI. The neurosurgeon will use these images and your history, including the vertebral compression fracture and kyphoplasty, to determine whether you will need spinal surgery or a shunt placement.
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