Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty: compression fracture treatment for pain relief
A compression fracture is a type of vertebral fracture resulting from a weakening of the bones due to osteoporosis. Fractures can happen anywhere along the vertebral column, but they’re most likely to occur in the thoracic (upper back) and lumbar (lower back) regions.
There are two primary surgical treatments for compression fractures:
A vertebroplasty is a minimally-invasive technique that can be used to treat both lumbar and thoracic compression fractures. Like a cast for a broken bone, a vertebroplasty will immediately stabilize the fracture, relieve pain and prevent the formation of a deformity.
A kyphoplasty is a similar procedure designed to stabilize compression fractures. It’s sometimes called a balloon vertebroplasty, because it involves inflating the fracture with a balloon.
From a patient’s perspective, the differences between the two procedures are relatively minor. Your physician may choose one technique or the other depending on certain factors, like how long ago your fracture occurred.
Kyphoplasty vs. Vertebroplasty
A kyphoplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure that can repair a fracture and restore the spine’s normal shape. It’s usually performed under anesthesia. The physician will insert a needle through the skin and into the fracture. At the end of the needle is a surgical balloon.
Once the needle is placed, the surgeon will carefully inflate the balloon, which re-aligns the broken vertebral pieces. The balloon is then removed, and the cavity is filled with bone cement. The bone cement hardens, and this will stabilizes the fracture and allow it to heal.
Vertebroplasty works in a similar way, except no balloon is used. There may be no need for realignment, or the doctor may be able to align the fracture using only physical manipulation and body placement. Instead of a balloon, the bone cement is injected into the fracture under high pressure.
Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty Risks
Vertebroplasty, Advanced Pain Management Los AngelesWhile both kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are minimally-invasive and can be performed on an outpatient basis, they do carry some risks which you should discuss with your doctor.
Though rare, one complication is the possibility of bone cement leaking out of the vertebra before it hardens.
Your doctor can minimize this risk by using fluoroscopy to guide the insertion of the needle. Using X-ray imaging and high-contrast dye, a fluoroscopy can help your doctor to precisely place the tip of the needle, to ensure that the bone cement stays where it belongs.