KYPHOPLASTY Q & A
What Is Kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is a treatment for vertebral compression fractures (VCFs). VCFs most commonly occur in the middle, that is thoracic, or lower parts of the spine. The vertebral body in the spine collapses, due to compression on the bony structure. Osteoporosis, in addition to some cancers and injuries, can cause vertebral compression fractures. VCFs can lead to severe pain, deformity, and loss of height.
How Is Kyphoplasty Performed?
Kyphoplasty is usually done under local anesthesia, but general anesthesia may be used in some cases. With patients lying face down, physicians place a small needle through the skin and into the spine, using x-ray imaging to guide the needle to the precise spot of the fracture. A balloon is placed through the needle, and then inflated to lift the height of the vertebrae. This restores height and alleviates compression. Next, vertebroplasty cement is injected through the needle to strengthen the bone and prevent more fracturing and collapse. The entire procedure typically takes less than an hour, though it may last longer if more vertebrae are treated.
What to Expect from VCF Treatments with Kyphoplasty?
What Are the Risks of Kyphoplasty?
All procedures have risks, but kyphoplasty benefits often outweigh the risks. Physicians typically review all risks with patients based on their health history. The possible risks of kyphoplasty include:
- Continued, or increased, back pain
- Nerve damage
- Allergic reactions to X-ray dyes
- Cement leakage
Who Benefits from Kyphoplasty?
Ideal patients for the procedure have pain at the level of the spine compression fracture that does not respond to conservative therapy such as pain medication and anti-inflammatories. Early intervention with kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty may prevent further debilitation from muscle atrophy and worsening osteoporosis, as well as deformity of the spine which develops as the vertebra collapses.
Additionally, malignancies such as breast and kidney cancer can spread to the bone. These metastases may weaken bones and lead to fractures. With the kyphoplasty procedure, physicians inject vertebroplasty cement into these fracture sites to provide stabilization and pain relief.
What Are the Advantages of Kyphoplasty?
The biggest benefit of kyphoplasty is that the treatment will prevent further symptoms and deterioration from vertebral compression fractures. In addition, using local anesthesia kyphoplasty does not have the risks of traditional surgery under general anesthesia. Furthermore, many patients can walk within an hour or so post procedure and go home the same day. Recovery time is shorter than with traditional surgery, and most patients notice less pain almost immediately. While there may some soreness from the needle insertion, it only lasts a short time.