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Twin Falls doctor helps patients recover with balloons and cement

Posted at 7:01 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 13:17:40-04

TWIN FALLS — One Twin Falls doctor is using kyphoplasty, a procedure done with balloons and cement, to treat patients with back pain. For one Twin Falls resident, when she suffered a fall and landed in the emergency room, she decided to take a chance and try kyphoplasty to see if it would help.

"Anything was going to help, and I thought because I was really in a lot of pain and so I was ready to try whatever he offered," Mary Sullivan, Twin Falls resident, said.

The procedure is not invasive, and according to Dr. David Christensen, a physician for Intermountain Spine and Orthopedic in Twin Falls, it typically takes an hour to complete.

"We can go in just through small little incisions in the skin, and we insert a cannula into the vertebra. Then we can put a heavy balloon in and try to balloon the compressed fracture up, and then in the cavity that's created we can use bone cement; it's the same cement used in total hips and total knees," Christensen said.

Dr. Christensen says after the procedure, patients usually recover within 12-24 hours.

"It allows them to get up and be more mobile, and the mortality rate for that has been significantly improved," Christensen said.

If all goes well, this procedure could be a life-changing procedure for patients like Mary.

"I just really thought this was going to be it. I was like 80, and I figured I'm probably heading towards an assisted living somewhere," Sullivan said.

Mary says she felt fully recovered a couple of days after the procedure.