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What is Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is linked to vertebroplasty. This procedure is used to treat fractures in the spine. These bones are called vertebrae.

A vertebroplasty procedure includes the doctor injecting a cementlike material into the bone to help stabilize it. A kyphoplasty procedure includes the doctor first inflating a balloonlike device into the bone to make space and then filling it with cement.

You may need a kyphoplasty if you have certain types of fractures, or broken areas, in your spine. In most cases, osteoporosis—or thinning of the bones—plays a role in these fractures. The fractures can cause the bones to compress or even collapse. The fractures can lead to pain or lead to the development of hunched posture.

The procedure may also be done if cancer has damaged a vertebra. A kyphoplasty may make the bone a little taller to help make up for the height it loses when it’s compressed. The procedure may also relieve pain.

Doctors perform this procedure only after testing other treatment options such as wearing a back brace or taking pain medications.

The risks involved in a kyphoplasty include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Increased back pain
  • Tingling, numbness, or weakness because of nerve damage
  • Allergic reactions to chemicals used during X-rays that help the doctor put the balloon in the right place
  • Cement leaking out of position

The dose of radiation released during an X-ray procedure is considered low; therefore, the risk for radiation exposure is minimal. If you are pregnant or may be pregnant, you should notify your health care provider.

There may be other risks, depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor before the procedure.

Your doctor will meet with you before the procedure to check your health. You will also have testing done. This may include X-rays or an MRI scan to help your doctor see the fractures. You may also have blood tests and a physical examination.

Discuss any medications or supplements that you’re taking with your doctor and if you have an allergy to any medications or to contrast agents (dyes used during some X-rays) let them know beforehand.

You may need to stop taking aspirin or other medicines that thin your blood before the procedure. You may be told to avoid eating or drinking anything for several hours before the surgery. Bring someone with you to the procedure to drive you home afterward.

An anesthesia provider will put an IV line into a vein to give you medicine. You will either be given medicine to relax you and keep you from feeling pain or to make you go to sleep before the surgery. You will lie face down on an operating table during the surgery. X-ray equipment will be nearby.

The doctor will insert a needle through your skin and back muscles and into the bone, then inflate the balloon. This opens a space for the pastelike cement and may help the bone regain its normal shape. Next, your doctor will inject the cement mixture into the bone while checking X-ray images to help ensure that the cement goes into the right place. The doctor will then remove the needle. You will not need stitches in your back.

The entire procedure will probably take less than an hour. If the doctor needs to treat more than one vertebra, the procedure may take longer. You will spend time in a recovery room after the surgery. You may be able to go home the same day, but your doctor may want you to stay overnight.

You may be able to start walking an hour after the procedure. You may feel some soreness where the needle was put into your back; this may last a few days. You may quickly notice that you have less pain in your back than you did before the surgery. Ask your doctor about any activities that should be avoided following the procedure.

Your doctor may suggest that you take certain vitamins, minerals, and medications to help strengthen your bones and prevent more fractures in your spine.