What is a kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty?
Kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty are ways of treating vertebral body compression fractures, which are small breaks in the thick mass of bone that makes up the front part of your spinal column (the vertebral body). Vertebral body fractures lead to the collapse or compression of a vertebra, causing your spine to shorten and curve forward. This can result in pain and a kyphotic (hunched-over) deformity.
Thinning of bones, or osteoporosis, is the main cause of vertebral compression fractures. Pathologic fractures related to spinal tumors may also be a cause.
Who is a candidate for kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty procedures? What kinds of conditions are treated?
Kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty are generally reserved for people with painful progressive (increasing) back pain caused by osteoporotic or pathologic vertebral compression fractures. Candidates for these procedures often have a reduced ability to move and function because of the fractures.
To be a candidate for a kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty, your pain must be related to the vertebral fracture, and must not be due to other problems, such as disk herniation, arthritis, or stenosis (narrowing). Imaging tests — such as spinal x-rays, bone scans and computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans — might be ordered to confirm the presence of a vertebral fracture. If you have osteoporosis, your healthcare provider may order a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan.
How does the procedure work?
During the kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty procedure, you’ll lie on your stomach. The healthcare provider will insert a hollow needle, called a trocar, through your skin and into the vertebra. A type of x-ray, called a fluoroscopy, is used to guide the trocar into the proper position.
Once the trocar is in place, either cement (vertebroplasty) or an inflatable balloon-like device (kyphoplasty) is inserted into the vertebra through the trocar. During a kyphoplasty, as the balloon is inflated, it opens up a space to be filled with bone cement.
How effective is kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty?
Kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty usually provides pain relief and improved mobility (movement) within 48 hours of the procedure. In some cases, however, you may feel pain relief immediately.
Contact your primary care physician to ask for a referral to be seen by one of our pain specialists!