What are kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty?
Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are techniques employed to address vertebral body compression fractures, which are minor fractures occurring in the dense bone mass forming the front section of the spinal column (vertebral body). These fractures lead to the collapse or compression of a vertebra, resulting in a forward curvature and shortening of the spine known as kyphosis, often accompanied by pain.
The primary cause of vertebral compression fractures is often weakened bones, such as from osteoporosis, although fractures related to spinal tumors can also be a contributing factor.
Who is eligible for kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty procedures, and what do they treat?
Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty procedures are typically reserved for individuals experiencing progressively painful back pain due to either osteoporotic or pathologic vertebral compression fractures. Candidates for these procedures usually suffer from limited mobility and function as a consequence of these fractures.
To be considered for kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty, the pain experienced must stem from the vertebral fracture itself and not be attributable to other conditions like disc herniation, arthritis, or spinal stenosis (narrowing). Diagnostic imaging techniques such as spinal X-rays, bone scans, CT scans, or MRI scans are often employed to confirm the presence of a vertebral fracture. If osteoporosis is suspected, a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan might be recommended.
How do these procedures function?
During kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty, the patient assumes a prone position (lying on the stomach). A hollow needle, referred to as a trocar, is inserted through the skin and into the affected vertebra. A special X-ray called fluoroscopy is utilized to guide the positioning of the trocar accurately.
Once the trocar is correctly placed, either bone cement (in vertebroplasty) or an inflatable balloon-like device (in kyphoplasty) is introduced into the vertebra through the trocar. In a kyphoplasty, the balloon is inflated to create a space that is then filled with bone cement.
What is the effectiveness of kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty?
Typically, individuals undergoing kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty experience relief from pain and an improvement in mobility within 48 hours of the procedure. In certain cases, immediate pain relief can also occur.
If you are interested in these procedures, it is advisable to reach out to your primary care physician and inquire about a referral to consult with one of our pain specialists!
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