Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty

Search Knowledgebase

Topic Contents

Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty

Topic Overview

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are surgeries that are done to try to relieve pain from compression fractures of the spine. Fractures can happen because of osteoporosis, tumours, or other conditions.

Vertebroplasty

After giving you a local anesthetic, the doctor puts a needle into your vertebrae and injects a substance that works like cement.

The doctor guides the needle using fluoroscopy. This is a test that can be used to position a needle for a procedure. Vertebroplasty takes 1 to 2 hours. The injection usually takes only about 10 minutes.

The cement mixture hardens in about half an hour. You likely will go home the same day. You may take some pain medicine for a couple of days.

Kyphoplasty

This surgery can be used to return your vertebrae to a more normal shape.

Your doctor may numb the area, or you may get medicine to make you sleep. The doctor makes a small cut in your back and puts a balloon device into the fractured vertebra. The doctor inflates the balloon and then deflates it. Then he or she puts the cement substance into the space created by the balloon. It takes 1 to 2 hours to treat each vertebra.

You may go home that day, or you may spend the night in the hospital.

How well do these surgeries work?

Only a few studies have been done on these surgeries. One study showed that people who had vertebroplasty for recent compression fractures noticed pain relief right away.1 Two other studies, involving people with painful compression fractures from osteoporosis, compared those who got the cement to those who didn't. In these two groups, there was not much difference in their pain or their ability to be active.2, 3

Because the surgeries are still somewhat new, it's not known how well they work over time.

Possible problems from the surgeries include:

  • Allergic reactions.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Infection.
  • A blot clot that travels to the lung (pulmonary embolism).

Problems are more common when more than one vertebra is treated at the same time.

Talk to your doctor about how these surgeries compare with other treatments you might have.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Klazen CAH, et al. (2010) Vertebroplasty versus conservative treatment in acute osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures (Vertos II): An open-label randomised trial. Lancet, 376(9746): 1085–1092.
  2. Buchbinder R, et al. (2009). A randomized trial of vertebroplasty for painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures. New England Journal of Medicine, 361(6): 557–568.
  3. Kallmes DF, et al. (2009). A randomized trial of vertebroplasty for osteoporotic spinal fractures. New England Journal of Medicine, 361(6): 569–579.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carla J. Herman, MD, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last Revised May 24, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.