What are kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are related procedures used to treat severe back pain due to compression fractures of the vertebral bodies. Compression fractures are generally caused by osteoporosis. Kyphoplasty reduces pain by restoring the full height of the vertebra with the inflation of a balloon and injection of an acrylic substance which stabilizes the broken pieces. Vertebroplasty reduces pain by injecting a type of cement into the vertebra and provides a similar stabilization of the broken fragments; it doesn’t restore the height of the vertebra, however. These therapies do not improve back pain caused by herniated or ruptured intervertebral disks.

Am I a candidate for kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty?

You are a candidate for kyphoplasty and/or vertebroplasty if you suffer from severe back pain caused by compression fractures due to osteoporosis or other factors that is not improved by pain medications and bed rest. If you have also been diagnose with a posterior cortical defect, you are not a candidate for this procedure. Additionally, if you have an infection in your vertebra, you are not a candidate. Fractures caused by problems with your veins and arteries, tumors, or an infection, kyphoplasty is not recommended.

How long will the kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty procedures take?

Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are not lengthy procedures. However, you will likely be hospitalized following a kyphoplasty; vertebroplasty can be performed in the clinic. For most patients, the only pain associated with vertebroplasty is the needle stick for numbing your skin and underlying tissue. You may receive some medicine to keep you calm and relaxed during the procedure. Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are performed with the help of fluoroscopy, which is a real-time x-ray machine that helps your provider find the correct spot. The skin is cleansed and numbed and a large needle is inserted into the vertebral body. In vertebroplasty, an acrylic cement is injected into the vertebral body to stabilize the fractured bone and allowed to set. Kyphoplasty is slightly more complicated. A special balloon is inflated in the body of the vertebra to restore the normal height of the bone. Then, the balloon is deflated and a similar acrylic cement is injected into the space created by the balloon. For both procedures, after the acrylic is injected, it is allowed to set for 10 minutes. You will lay flat on your back for one hour after the procedure.

How long will it take to recover from kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty?

Immediately after the kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty, you will need to lay flat for an hour, after which you may be discharged. You may have some pain at the incision site.  It is important to limit activity to protect the other vertebrae which may be weakened due to osteoporosis. Your doctor will discuss with you a plan to halt and correct the degeneration of your vertebrae  and other bones due to osteoporosis. It is important to strengthen your bones and prevent further injury.

Reference:

Kochan, J. (2015). Percutaneous vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. Medscape. Retrieved from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1835633-overview#a5