FAQs on Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty
Osteoporosis affects more than 28 million people in America. With osteoporosis, the bones gradually weaken and become brittle, and vertebra of the spine collapse. Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) produce severe pain, spinal deformity, and loss of total body height.
How do I prepare for the procedure?
Before the vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty procedure, the doctor will discuss the risks and benefits and have you sign a consent form. You are not permitted to eat or drink after midnight before the procedure. In addition, certain medications may be held prior to the surgery (blood-thinning agents). When you arrive at the medical facility, a nurse will have you change into a gown and start an IV catheter in your arm. Do not bring valuables with you, and have someone available to drive you home.
How is a vertebroplasty performed?
Vertebroplasty is a procedure used to relieve pain associated with compression fractures. Vertebroplasty is done under local or general anesthesia. The doctor numbs the skin with a local anesthetic after cleansing it with an antiseptic solution. A special bone needle is passed slowly into the vertebra using x-ray guidance.
Once the needle is in place, an orthopedic cement is pushed through the needle into the crushed vertebra. This solution contains a special antibiotic to prevent infection. After the cement hardens, it stabilizes the bone fracture. Once the needle is removed, a bandage is applied to the insertion area.
What happens during a kyphoplasty procedure?
Similar to vertebroplasty, the doctor makes small incisions along the back over the fracture vertebra. A special balloon is inserted into the vertebra and inflated. This restores the bone height. Once inflated, a special cement is injected into the bone, which offers pain relief.
How does kyphoplasty differ from vertebroplasty?
Both of these procedures involve injection of a medical cement into a collapsed vertebra through a hollow needle. The goal of both kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty is to stabilize and strengthen the bone. Kyphoplasty is used to correct structural deformity, by restoring some of the lost bone height. In addition, vertebroplasty is done under high pressure, which carries a risk of cement leakage. Kyphoplasty is done under low pressure, so the risk for this complication is much less.
What happens after the procedure?
After the vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty procedure, you will be moved to a recovery area. A nurse will monitor your condition for 20-30 minutes. You will be given pain medication and antibiotics, if necessary. Depending on your condition, you may stay overnight, although some patients go home the same day as the procedure.
Who is a candidate for vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?
These procedures are used for strengthening and stabilizing collapsed vertebra. Treatment is possible for old fractures, but the procedures are more effective when the fracture has been present for less than a year. VFCs occur from osteoporosis, bone tumors, and other bone diseases.
What are the risks and complications of these procedures?
The possible risks and problems associated with kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are rare, but they can occur. These include:
- Nerve damage
- Allergic reaction
- Blood clot formation
What is the success rate of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?
The success rate is noted at 90% for these procedures for pain relief, according to clinical studies. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are both associated with a low morbidity rate. Although pain is eliminated or reduced after the procedure, patients with osteoporosis are at risk for VFC recurrence.
Premier Pain & Spine in Chicago offers the top pain management in the Metro area with 8 locations. Board Certified, Fellowship Trained doctors provide both medication management and interventional procedures such as kyphoplasty.
Belkoff SM, Maroney M, Fenton DC, & Mathis JM (1999). An in vitro biomechanical evaluation of bone cements used in percutaneous vertebroplasty. Bone, 29.
Wardlaw D, Cummings SR, Van Meirhaeghe J, et al. (2009). Efficacy and safety of balloon kyphoplasty compared with non-surgical care for vertebral compression fracture (FREE): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 373(9668):1016-24.