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Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty both are intended to treat issues related to a fracture or problem related to a vertebral bone.

The vertebral bones in the spine can be fractured from a fall or automobile accident. Other times, osteoporosis can make the bone porous and less strong.

On an x-ray, a physician may see signs of a compression fracture that shows the vertebra has lost bone height. The physician may recommend an MRI to further assess the extent of the vertebral fracture. The most common levels with vertebral fractures are the lower thoracic and upper lumbar spine.
 
Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease that causes loss of bone density and makes the bone less strong at more risk of fracture.  Osteoporosis affects about half of people over the age of 50 with 80% of those being women. It’s estimated that there are about 700,000 vertebral fractures each year in the US, but only a third are diagnosed. Those with osteoporosis are at higher risk of a compression fracture in the spine.

How fractures are treated

There are two common treatments for vertebral fractures:

  • Kyphoplasty: With kyphoplasty the spine specialist uses an inflatable balloon to create a cavity for the cement to relieve pain symptoms and restoring height and reduce kyphosis (an abnormal spinal curve).
  • Vertebroplasty: With vertebroplasty the spine specialist injects bone cement into the vertebral body to eliminate pain symptoms and prevent further loss of vertebral height.

Both kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are effective treatment options for the reduction of pain associated with vertebral body compression fractures. Patients likely to benefit from vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty have a history of pain that correlates well with the level of a recent compression fracture. Kyphoplasty was developed as an improved method over vertebroplasty specifically to address the correction of kyphosis.

During the procedure, patients are given IV sedation. Once the patient is asleep, a small needle is placed under C-arm fluoroscopy (X-ray guidance) into the compressed vertebra. Using a small balloon placed through a port in the needle, a cavity is created within the vertebral bone. Cement is injected into the vertebra filling the cavity and fractured bone. It takes about 10 minutes for the the cement to harden forming an internal cast within the compressed bone.
 
Kyphoplasty typically takes about 45 minutes with a short time in recovery where the patient is monitored closely. A pain prescription is typically provided to relieve any post-procedure soreness, but most patients notice an immediate improvement in their severe pain upon standing to walk immediately following the procedure.
 
Compression fractures have previously been such a difficult problem to treat among the elderly.  Kyphoplasty is a suitable, low risk treatment option to prevent progressive weakness and pain from compression fractures.

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