Vertebroplasty & Kyphoplasty
What is a vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty and how is it performed?A vertebroplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure used to strengthen broken vertebra caused mainly by osteoporosis and cancer. This procedure is most commonly used for patients who have not shown improvements with pain medication and braces. A cement mixture is injected into the broken vertebra, enabling the bone to become stronger. This procedure can increase a patient’s physical activity and prevent future vertebral fractures. Most patients feel pain relief immediately. The Kyphoplasty procedure involves the use of a balloon to restore the vertebral body height and shape and is followed by the injection of bone cement to strengthen it.
Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty are done in an interventional radiology suite, usually by an interventional radiologist or neuroradiologist. Prior to the procedure, local anesthetic will be used to numb the area where a small incision will be made near the spinal fracture. The patient typically receives deep sedation, however, on occasion patients may require general anesthesia to tolerate lying on the abdomen during the procedure. To confirm correct needle placement and prevent displacement of the acrylic, or bone cement, a small amount of contrast medium (barium) is mixed along with the cement. Complications include bleeding, embolus due to migration of the cement, nerve root irritation, pneumothorax, and infection.
After the procedure is completed, patients are instructed to lie flat for two hours while the cement hardens. After that, patients are slowly raised to a sitting position while they are assessed for pain, numbness of the lower extremities, and weakness. They are then allowed to walk with assistance then discharged home. Pain relief is often immediate, but localized tenderness at the injection site is common.