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Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty

Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty

Topic Overview

Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are surgeries that are done to try to relieve pain from compression fractures of the spine by stabilizing the broken bone with a substance that works like cement. These surgeries are not done very often, because most fractures heal on their own. Fractures can happen because of osteoporosis , tumors, or other conditions.

Kyphoplasty

Your doctor may numb the area, or you may get medicine to make you sleep. The doctor makes a small cut in your back and puts a balloon device into the fractured vertebra. The doctor inflates the balloon and then deflates it. Then he or she puts a substance that works like cement into the space created by the balloon. It takes 1 to 2 hours to treat each vertebra.

You may go home that day, or you may spend the night in the hospital.

Vertebroplasty

After giving you a local anesthetic, the doctor puts a needle into your vertebrae and injects the cement substance.

The doctor guides the needle using fluoroscopy. This is a test that can be used to position a needle for a procedure. Vertebroplasty takes 1 to 2 hours. The injection usually takes only about 10 minutes.

The cement mixture hardens in about half an hour. You likely will go home the same day. You may take some pain medicine for a couple of days.

How well do these surgeries work?

Experts looked at a large group of studies of kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty. They found that there is no strong evidence that either kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty is better than nonsurgical treatment, such as pain medicine, rest, and exercise. These experts believe kyphoplasty may be an option for some people, but they do not recommend vertebroplasty. 1

Possible problems from the surgeries include:

  • Allergic reactions.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Infection.
  • A blot clot that travels to the lung ( pulmonary embolism ).

Problems are more common when more than one vertebra is treated at the same time.

Talk to your doctor about how these surgeries compare with other treatments you might have.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Esses SI, et al. (2011). The treatment of symptomatic osteoporotic spinal compression fractures. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 19(3): 176–182. Also available online: http://www.aaos.org/research/guidelines/guide.asp.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last Revised November 6, 2012

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