A 79-year-old Mount Pleasant woman was the first East Texan to undergo minimally invasive Band-Aid surgery to repair a compression fracture in the spine Friday morning at East Texas Medical Center, using a cement-like substance to create an internal cast.

The procedure – called Kyphoplasty™ – was approved in 1998 by the Food and Drug Administration for vertebrae compression fractures associated with osteoporosis, a disease which causes abnormal loss of bony tissue. It is common in postmenopausal women or those who have undergone extensive steroid therapy.

About three months ago, Mrs. Annie McCollum started experiencing back pain caused by osteoporosis, which makes bones brittle and often results in stress fractures. She was the first patient in East Texas to have the 1-2 hour surgical procedure, while becoming one of 400 nationally to undergo Kyphoplasty.

She was operated on by Dr. Jon Ledlie, a board certified neurosurgeon with Tyler Neurosurgical Associates, who made two small incisions in the back and then closed each with one stitch and Band-Aids.

During the surgery, he inserted tubes to create a path to the spine using fluoroscopy to guide to correct position. Special balloons then were inflated to raise the collapsed bone, creating an enlarged space inside the vertebrae at the fracture line.

After removing the balloons, Dr. Ledlie, who graduated from Oklahoma University School of Medicine, used specially designed instruments to fill this area with a cement-like substance to strengthen the spine. The cement-like substance requires about 4-6 centimeters of the material to fix fractures, which is about the size of a thimble.

Dr. Ledlie, a native of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, said Mrs. McCollum was doing fie Friday afternoon and is expected to go home Saturday. He said 70-90 percent of patients experience immediate relief.

The material we use hardens similar to the denture material dentists use, giving solid support to the spine, he said. When inserted, it has the consistency of tooth paste but with the heat from the body, it hardens immediately. This fixes the fracture and prevents further collapse of the treated vertebral body (thick block of bone at the front of each vertebra).

He noted the following key features of Kyphoplasty, compared to conventional medical therapy or surgery:

  • Immediate pain relief in a large percent of cases.
  • Most patients return to activities of daily living.
  • Stabilizes vertebral fracture.
  • Reduces spinal deformity by restoring vertebral body anatomy and height.
  • Usually minimally invasive.