Spine Fracture Surgery

Also known as vertebral compression fractures (VCF), spinal fractures may be caused by bone-weakening conditions such as osteoporosis or spine cancer, or by injury. There are a multitude of factors that go into your doctor’s recommended surgery decision which include risk of complication, therefore there is no exact surgery standard for spinal fractures.

Though there are several spinal procedures that may be recommended depending on the particular types, causes and circumstances that surround the spine fracture, the most common surgical procedures for spinal compression fractures are lumbar fusion, vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are very closely related spinal procedures in which bone cement is injected through a small hole in the skin into the fractured vertebra. This is done in an effort to relieve any back pain caused by vertebral compression fractures.

Lumbar Fusion connects the vertebrae with rods. Minimally invasive lumbar fusion joins the bones of the spine in the lower back together in one connected piece, so that there is no longer any motion between them.

Causes of Spinal Fractures

The surgeon will make the best recommendation for surgery: whether you need it, and what type of surgery will help your type of injury the most. There are several main surgical goals that the surgeon will take into consideration when thinking about surgery:

  • Restoring spinal alignment/stability
  • Reducing neurological complications by removing pressure from the spinal nerve or spinal cord
  • Providing the possibility of rehabilitation (if the surgery can help the patient regain some function, surgery may be a good option)

During the surgery, the surgeon may approach the spine from the front (anterior) or from the back (posterior). It’s also sometimes necessary to do an anterior-posterior approach; this is usually done in extreme cases of spinal instability or deformity.

To reduce neurological complications, the surgeon may recommend a decompression, which is removal of the parts of the spine pressing on the spinal nerves or spinal cord. To stabilize the spine and restore alignment, the fractured vertebrae and adjacent vertebrae are arranged so that they may fuse together over time. Usually, a full fusion takes six to nine months for full recovery. During this recovery, you will most likely work with a physical or occupational therapist to help you gain mobility safely.