What is a kyphoplasty?
Like vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty injects special cement into your vertebrae — with the additional step of creating space for the treatment with a balloon-like device (balloon vertebroplasty). Kyphoplasty can restore a damaged vertebra’s height and may also relieve pain.
As with vertebroplasty, the effectiveness of kyphoplasty is under debate in the medical community — you should discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Why is kyphoplasty performed?
Doctors might recommend kyphoplasty for cancer-damaged vertebrae or certain spinal fractures. In most cases, a weakening of the bones (osteoporosis) has caused the vertebrae to compress or collapse, causing pain or a hunched posture.
Before the procedure:
- Your doctor will examine you, possibly drawing blood for testing and using X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to locate the fractures.
During the procedure:
- An anesthesiologist will deliver medicine through an IV to either relax you and relieve your pain or put you to sleep.
- With X-ray guidance, your doctor will insert a needle through your skin and back muscles into the bone, then inflate a balloon to help the vertebra regain its normal shape.
- Your doctor will inject the cement while checking X-rays to ensure it’s going into the right place
- Your doctor will remove the needle, with no stitches needed.
- The entire procedure will probably take less than an hour, though it may last longer if more vertebrae are treated.
After the procedure:
- You will spend time in a recovery room. You could go home the same day, but your doctor may want you to stay overnight.
- It’s possible that you can start walking an hour after the procedure. You may feel some soreness where the needle entered your back, but this lasts no more than a few days. You may quickly notice that you have less pain than you did before the surgery.
- Talk with your doctor about whether you should avoid any activities after the procedure.
- Your doctor may suggest taking certain vitamins, minerals and medications to help strengthen your bones and prevent additional spinal fractures. (Source, John Hopkins).
The risks of kyphoplasty include:
- Increased back pain, tingling, numbness or weakness because of nerve damage
- Allergic reactions to chemicals used with X-rays to help guide the doctor
- Cement leaking out of position
You may face other risks, depending on your specific medical condition. Make sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor before the procedure.