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Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are minimally-invasive procedures for the treatment and prevention of spinal compression fractures. These fractures occur when the bones of the spine are weakened by osteoporosis, tumors, or other conditions. For people with these risk factors, even simple activities like bending or twisting can cause weakened vertebrae to collapse, especially in the weight-bearing areas of the mid and lower back.

How do vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty work?

In both procedures, a physician injects a specialized bone cement into weakened or collapsed parts of the spine. The cement quickly hardens to provide strength and support to the damaged bone. The goals of treatment are to relieve pain and prevent further collapse of the vertebra. While the procedures are similar, kyphoplasty also involves using a small balloon to create a space for the cement to fill.

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedures

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are performed under general anesthesia or moderate sedation. You will lie face down on the operating table. Guided by live X-ray imaging, your doctor will insert a needle through the skin and into the fractured vertebra. When proper placement is confirmed, the physician will inject bone cement, which spreads throughout the weakened portion of the bone. In kyphoplasty, the surgeon will first insert a balloon through the needle and inflate it, creating a space for the cement to fill. The needle is then withdrawn and the cement hardens within a few minutes.

What can you expect after the procedure?

Following vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, you will be discharged, usually on the same day of the procedure.  You may have some soreness at the site of needle entry and will be advised to not resume your normal activities for 24 hours after the procedure.  Heavy lifting and any strenuous activities should also be avoided for multiple weeks after the surgery, or as instructed by the ordering physician.

What are the Associated Risks and Complications?

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are generally safe. As with any procedure, some risks can occur. Complications may include bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia, leakage of cement into the surrounding or distant tissues, or incomplete or no relief of pain.

Additional risks of the procedure will be discussed by the performing radiologist and nursing staff prior to the procedure.

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