Kyphoplasty Overview for Spinal Compression Fractures

FAQs on Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty offers an alternative and better treatment option for about 700,000 US resident experiencing spinal fractures each year. First performed in 1984 by French surgeons, the percutaneous medical procedure was introduced in the 1990s to treat spinal tumors and vertebral compression fracturevertebral compression fractures. A major percentage of patients with spinal fracture prefer kyphoplasty over other procedures due to its rapid pain relief and better functional outcome.

What is kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty or balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure to treat spinal fractures. It involves injecting a special cementing material in to the vertebral fracture to fill the cavity caused by compression and reinstate the strength, alignment of the bone. This restores lost vertebral body height, decompresses the bone, fix the fractured area and stops pain. It uses a balloon to inflate the fractured area before delivering the cementing solution into it.

The process is minimally invasive and performed using percutaneous method, which uses a needle through a small puncture on the skin to deliver the cementing material. Kyphoplasty is used as a successful treatment for the spinal fractures relieving majority of patients from seeking increased bed rest and medication.

What is injected during kyphoplasty?

The cementing material injected to the fractured vertebra during kyphoplasty is made from polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Also known as bone cement, the material has been used to fix artificial joints to bones in hip, knee and shoulder for over seven decades. It requires mixing of the powder initiator with liquid accelerator to prepare the dough-like solution to be injected. The viscosity changes with time and it turn into solid hardened material providing support and alignment to the fractured/ decompressed bone.

How does kyphoplasty provide relief?

Kyphoplasty has three objectives while treating spinal fractures

  • Ending pain linked to fractures or decompression
  • Restore alignment of the spine and treat deformity
  • Enhance mobility and strength of the spine

Vertebral fractures result in the compression and collapse of the affected part of the spine. The improper alignment of bones fails to withstand stress and back pain is felt as the spine curves forward. Kyphoplasty fills the void caused by fracture and decompression and restores the alignment to its original shape. This helps stabilize the broken vertebra and prevents compression of disks. It also eliminates rubbing of bones as patients do their daily activities.

How is it different from vertebroplasty?

Kyphoplasty is similar to vertebroplasty except the additional use of a balloon prior to the injection of cementing solution. The balloon is used to correct the compressed alignment, create place for the bone cement and ensure its right placement. It is removed once the cementing is done. The balloon technique is also vital to restore the height of the spine and reduce the deformity.


What are medical conditions treated with kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty procedure is used to treat spinal fractures. There are 24 vertebrae in the spine. When injury or damage is caused to these small bones, they collapse causing a cavity in the bone alignment and the affected spinal portion is compressed. In medical terminology, the disorder is called vertebral compression fracture. The primary reasons of spinal fractures are osteoporosis or loss of bony tissue, vertebra disruption linked to tumors and traumatic injury.

Patients with spinal injury experience abnormal curvature of spine and balance difficulties. This also impact the mobility and cause severe back pain. Kyphoplasty helps fill the vertebral cavity and restore the spine alignment. It treats painful back pain secondary to vertebral compression fractures.

Who is a candidate for kyphoplasty?

A patient is suggested for kyphoplasty only when he or she has

  • been healthy without any known infection
  • severe back pain attributed to confirmed vertebral compression fractures
  • reduced mobility and function due to back pain
  • back pain related to only osteoporotic or pathologic spinal fractures and not due to herniated disk or spinal stenosis or arthritis
  • no significant relief after using conservative therapies and medications
  • no already established spine deformity
  • spinal fractures is of recent nature (within 8 weeks) and not chronic

Is anesthesia required for kyphoplasty?

Yes. Doctors use general or local anesthesia depending on patient condition.

How is kyphoplasty performed?

  • A small incision is made over the fractured bone and a tube is inserted under fluoroscopic guidance. The tube is positioned as a pathway to access the fractured vertebrae area.
  • A hollow balloon is guided through the tube until it reaches the fractured bone. Doctors inflated the balloon and elevated the compressed/ fractured bone alignment. Once the alignment is set properly, the balloon is removed.
  • The cementing supplement is injected to fill the tiny cavity caused by the bone elevation or balloon withdrawal and keep the spinal alignment stable in its proper posture.

How long does it take?

It takes about an hour to complete the procedure for one vertebra.

What should I expect after kyphoplasty?

It is an outpatient procedure and patients are discharged after a few-hour observation. No overnight hospital stay is required unless there are complications. Patients experience soreness at the spot where the needle is injected.

What are postoperative cautions following kyphoplasty?

  • Rest on the bed for 24 hours
  • Keep the injection site clean and dry
  • Apply ice on the site
  • Resume daily activities, but need to avoid stress on the spine for six weeks
  • No driving for 2/3 days
  • No heavy lifting, bending exercise for six weeks

When will I experience the benefits of kyphoplasty?

Some patients have pain relief immediately after kyphoplasty while others have to wait for 48 hours. Patients can return to normal life after 24 hours and strenuous activities after six weeks.

How effective is kyphoplasty?

  • Kyphoplasty is minimally invasive and offers faster recovery while preventing worsening of severe spinal fractures.
  • Clinical studies have found 92 percent success rate for kyphoplasty compared to 87 percent in vertebroplasty.
  • Various research reports suggest pain relief between 90 andkyphoplasty-image1 100 percent following kyphoplasty.
  • The procedure improves functional abilities in 75 percent of patients with spinal compression fractures, according to the Cancer Patient Fracture Evaluation (CAFE) report prepared by the Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research.

What are the risks associated with kyphoplasty?

Patients may have reaction to anesthesia or the bone cement. Infection is another risk. When not performed by experts, the needle placement may cause injury to nerve or spinal cord and pose the threat of leaking of cementing solution into the epidural area. The leakage can cause embolism, which holds the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Colorado Clinic offers minimally invasive procedures for those with vertebral compression fractures at several locations including pain clinics in Greeley, Loveland, Longmont, Boulder and Buena Vista. Most insurance is accepted, and the procedures are offered by Board Certified Colorado pain management doctors. Call today!