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Vertebral Augmentation: Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty

Veterbral augmentation was developed in 1984 to reduce pain and loss of function from vertebral compression fractures. Prior to the invention of vertebral augmentation, patients suffering from compression fractures had only the option of bed rest until the bones healed and the pain subsided.

There are two types of vertebral augmentation – Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty. These minimally invasive procedures can provide rapid relief from the pain of these fractures, and patients undergoing these treatments are typically able to resume normal activity in the same day.

Vertebroplasty

Vertebroplasty involves injecting a cement-like substance directly into the fractured vertebrae, which stabilizes the bone and can immediately decrease the pain resulting from the fracture. This procedure is percutaneous (minimally-invasive), requiring only a local anesthetic at the area of the needle insertion. The procedure normally takes an hour, and patients can return home on the same day.

Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is functionally similar to vertebroplasty in that it stabilizes a fractured vertebrae to provide pain relief from compression fractures. The primary difference with Kyphoplasty is it involves a first step of inflating a small balloon (the KyphX Inflatable Bone Tamp) into the fractured area. The balloon expands the vertebrae to resume most of its original size and shape prior to the fracture. After space is created in the vertebrae, a cement-like substance is injected to fill the void and stabilize the bone.

This procedure is also minimally-invasive, requiring only a local anesthetic at the area of the needle insertion. The procedure normally takes an hour, and patients can return home on the same day.

Common Questions about Kyphoplasty & Vertebroplasty

Kyphoplasty is a typically safe procedure and complications arising from it are rare. As with any minimally invasive medical procedure, there are risks that you’ll want to discuss with your physician before treatment is administered. The potential side effects or risks of kyphoplasty are:

  • Temporary pain, swelling or bruising at the injection sites
  • Infection is very rare if conducted in a controlled, sterile environment
  • In extremely rare cases, if there is cement in the spinal canal, paralysis and embolism are possible
  • Long-term risks may include a risk of compression fractures above and below the treated level

any patients recognize pain relief immediately after the procedure, while it may take a few days for others. Overall, normal activities can be resumed, but heavy lifting or any unnatural twisting/bending should be avoided for at least six weeks. As with any procedure, please consult your physician regarding your remaining course of treatment, especially if osteoporosis was the cause of the fracture.

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