What are vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCF), which are fractures of the vertebrae, the bones that make up the spinal column. These procedures involve the injection of a bone cement to immobilize bone fragments and reduce pain immediately. Kyphoplasty may help restore the spine to a more normal alignment and prevent severe kyphotic (“hunchback”) deformity to the spine. In someone who has had multiple fractures with previous wedging, kyphoplasty can prevent worsening of the deformity.
How is it done?
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are similar procedures. Both are performed using a hollow needle that is passed through the skin of your back into the fractured vertebra, using an x-ray machine to assist correct placement. In vertebroplasty bone cement called polymethylmethacrylate is injected through the needle into the fractured bone. In kyphoplasty a balloon is first inserted and inflated to expand the compressed vertebra to its normal height before the space is filled with bone cement. The procedures are repeated for each affected vertebra. The cement-strengthened vertebra allows patients to stand straight, reduces their pain, and prevents further fractures.
Potential benefits of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty include:
- Short surgical time
- Only light general anesthesia or local anesthesia required.
- Average hospital stay is one day (or less).
- Patients can quickly return to their normal activities.
- No bracing required.
The surgeon may discuss alternative approaches to the vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedures, such as weight loss and use of medication to relieve pain. Physical therapy and orthopedic braces may aid in decompressing or mobilizing the spine through non-invasive or mechanical techniques.
Risks and potential complications
General complications of any surgery include bleeding, infection, blood clots, and reactions to anesthesia. The following are specific risks that should be considered.
- Cement leakage.
- Nerve damage
- New vertebral fractures.
- Residual pain.
Who is eligible for vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are generally reserved for people with painful progressive back pain secondary to osteoporotic or pathologic vertebral compression fractures. Candidates for these procedures often experience significant decreases in mobility and function as a result of the fractures.
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