FAQ’s On Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
What are Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?
Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty are the names of two similar spinal surgeries, each with the goal of providing stabilization to patients with spinal compression fractures. The difference between these procedures lies in the approach methods used. For some, kyphoplasty can treat compression fractures too, but still mainly used as a method of treating spinal deformities caused by compression fractures.
Both Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty are considered outpatient surgeries, meaning they will not require a hospital stay unless complications occur. Each of these surgeries involve injecting bone cement into the vertebrae of the spine to treat the problem areas. In the case of Kyphoplasty, special balloons are used first in order to create spaces for the bone cement. In both cases, the bone cement provides stabilizing support to the spine once it hardens.
Who is eligible for either Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty?
Patients experiencing extreme pain from compression fractures are the likeliest of candidates for Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty surgeries. Not only is the pain severe enough to cause disability, but compression fractures can also cause abnormal spine curvature, which can lead to serious health problems.
Ideally, the compression fracture should be less than six months old. The location and age of the compression fracture should be visible using imaging technology, like an X-ray, a MRI, or a bone scan. Additional testing may be necessary to ensure the bones have not deteriorated to the point that the ribs might break as the patient lays facedown for several hours during the procedure.
What causes a compression fracture?
The risk of compression fractures increase with age and bone deterioration due to
osteoporosis. Unfortunately, small vertebrae compression fractures often accumulate into a disabling spinal compression fracture. This normally occurs because too many patients assume the back pain they feel is a normal sign of aging or attribute the pain to arthritis. Bone cancer is another risk factor in compression fractures. Treating osteoporosis and smaller vertebrae compression fractures before they develop into a debilitating fracture can prevent the need for surgery.
How is the Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty procedure performed?
Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty can relieve pain, reduce the use of pain medication, and increase a patient\’s mobility. When the procedure is performed, the patient will be awake, but sedated. The patient will lie on his or her stomach during the entire procedure, which is why there is a risk of breaking the ribs during the injection. This is due to those bones being too porous to endure the procedure.
The back is numbed with anesthetic and a small incision is made where the needle is to be inserted. Using X-ray cameras as a guide, the surgeon then injects bone cement into the vertebrae. Each vertebrae can take an hour or longer to treat, after which the patient is required to continue lying flat on his or her stomach for two hours to give the cement sufficient time to harden.
What are the risks of Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?
While Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty has been extensively researched and deemed safe, these surgeries do come with certain risks. The main risks presented to the patient include the chance cement leakage, spinal cord injury during the procedure, and possibility of infection from the agents used.
Despite these risks, a successful surgery can greatly reduce the pain a patient experiences and may even eliminate the need for pain medication. Surgery is able to potentially provide full relief to the patient, which enables the patient to resume normal activities. Furthermore, this procedure can prevent further compression fractures from occurring in that area and significantly reduces the risk of spinal deformity.
Following a Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty, patients may require the assistance of a rehabilitation specialist in order to regain the strength required to resume normal activities. Additional assistance may be required in order to treat the bone damage caused by osteoporosis, bone cancer, or other conditions in the event that this procedure was not fully effective. It is always advisable for patients to work with their doctors in order to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
If you or a loved one suspects a vertebral compression fracture with mid to low back pain , a San Diego pain management doctor can help decrease your pain. This may include pain meds, spinal bracing or a kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty. Call a pain clinic in San Diego today!