FAQ’s on Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
What are Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?
Each of these is a technique designed to provide stabilization to the spine of a patient who has experienced a spinal fracture. The shared goal of these treatments is to provide relief for symptomatic pains related to the fracture, and each procedure uses a specialty spinal cement. This cement helps to solidify the spine once more, creating stabilization to assist the spine during the process of healing that follows an injury.
What will Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty treat?
Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are performed to provide assistance to patients with spinal fractures, with a primary focus on patients who have one or more damaged vertebrae due to a spinal compression fracture (Kyphopasty and vertebroplasty.2014). A compression fracture is the result of a spinal vertebrae having force applied to it that exceeds what the bone can withstand, resulting in the compression and damaging of the vertebrae.
Compression fractures occur most often in the elderly, typically in patients over the age of 70, who have already experienced a bone-weakening condition at some point in their life. Two of the most common bone-weakening conditions patients may face include osteoporosis and specific forms of cancer.
One factor that is important to patients experiencing back pain is that they may have a spinal compression fracture and not even know it. It is possible for a fracture to occur but not cause pain or a loss of stability, but most often fractures cause severe pain and the muscles of the back to spasm.
How are Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty performed?
Kyphoplasty is an outpatient procedure that is performed as a minimally invasive treatment. To begin, patients will have a small incision made into their back in the area of the back above the damaged spinal portion. A catheter will be inserted into this incision, with fluoroscopic imaging (rapid X-rays taken in quick succession to paint a real-time image of where the needle is) used for guidance. After correctly placing the catheter, a small balloon will be inflated inside the fracture. The purpose of the balloon is do dislodge and dissipate the remaining pieces of damaged or broken bone. This creates a large, empty area inside the fracture which receives the spinal cement.
A vertebroplasty is performed in an almost identical manner, with one key difference. The same size of incision will be made, with catheters guided into the fractured space by fluoroscopic imaging. After the correct placement of the catheters, the procedures differ as there is no balloon used with vertebroplasty. Instead, the spinal cement is directly injected into the fracture at this time.
After time, the cement will harden to create a solid base of support for the spine with vertebrae that are solid once more. Both a vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are designed to create a solid support for the spine to provide pain relief and restore function, not to the treat the fracture.
How well do Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty work?
The only difference between the two procedures is the method of injection for the cement (Risks and benefits of percutaneous vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty in the management of osteoporotic vertebral fractures. 2013). A kyphoplasty injects the spinal cement under low pressure, as all obstacles should have been removed during the swelling of the balloon. Contrary to this, a vertebroplasty injects cement under high pressure to force it to flow around remaining obstacles.
Each is a very reliable method of providing pain relief to patients who are experiencing symptomatic pains due to a spinal fracture. Approximately 90% of our patients undergoing one of these treatment methods are able to obtain extended relief, provided the procedure is performed relatively soon after a fracture occurs.