Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgery used to treat a spinal compression fracture. Spinal compression fractures occur primarily in spinal vertebrae that have been weakened by osteoporosis. Compression fractures typically occur in the thoracic region of the spine, which includes the T1 through T12 vertebrae, but may also occur in the lumbar spine, or L1 through L5. The goals of kyphoplasty are to reduce pain from the fracture, stabilize the vertebra, and restore the vertebra back to its normal height. In the procedure, the patient lies face down on the operating table. The surgeon makes a small, half-inch incision over the affected area. Using X-ray guidance, the surgeon inserts a narrow tube through the pedicle into one side of the fractured vertebra. In balloon kyphoplasty, a balloon tamp is then inserted through the tube and into the fractured vertebra.
Once inside the vertebra, the balloon tamp is inflated to create an open cavity inside the bone and to restore height to the collapsed vertebra. The surgeon then deflates and removes the balloon tamp from the vertebra, leaving the new bone cavity behind. A pasty compound called PMMA, a type of bone cement, is injected into the cavity until it is full. The cement hardens quickly, creating an internal cast inside of the fractured vertebra.
The process may be repeated on the other side of the vertebral body to ensure uniformity and increase the chances of complete deformity correction. In other forms of kyphoplasty, other surgical approaches for creating the cavity may be used, such as a net or ball. The surgeon then closes the incision. The patient stays on the operating table while the cement hardens, which usually takes about 5 minutes.
How Kyphoplasty Works
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.
Most patients can go home the same day as the procedure.