FAQs on Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is used to treat a vertebral compression fracture (VCF) of the spine. This procedure is done in a medical center under general anesthesia. Many patients go home the same day (outpatient), but this depends on your condition and current health status. According to studies, thousands of balloon kyphoplasty procedures are performed each year. Osteoporosis causes calcium loss in the bones, which results in weak bone structures. This increases your risk for VCF.

How do I prepare for the surgery?

Before the procedure, you must tell the doctor about all medications you are taking. In addition, notify the doctor if you have diabetes, a heart condition, or a bleeding disorder. Certain blood-thinning agents must be held several days before the procedure. Because of the anesthesia, arrange to have someone drive you home. Do not eat or drink after midnight before the test, and only take necessary medications with small sips of water. When you arrive at the facility, a nurse will have you sign an informed consent paper, get you into a gown, and place an IV line in your hand or arm.

How is the procedure performed?

You will be positioned face-down on a special table or lying on your side. After administering anesthesia, you will be asleep and will not feel pain. After the skin is cleaned with an antiseptic, a small incision is made over the affected vertebra. A special needle with balloon tip is inserted into the bone, and the balloon is inflated. X-ray guidance is used to assure correct placement of the needle. After restoring bone height, a special cement is injected and left to harden. The needle is removed, and a dry bandage is applied.

Why is kyphoplasty performed?

The most common cause of VCF is thinning of the bones (osteoporosis). Other causes of VCF include bone malignancy and trauma. The doctor may recommend this procedure if you have disabling pain or if the fracture is not an old break. Patients who do not respond to conservative care are candidates for kyphoplasty.

What risks are associated with kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a safe, effective procedure with few complications. However, while rare, these include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Allergic reaction to solutions and medications
  • Bone cement leakage

What happens after the procedure?

You will be moved to a recovery area, and a nurse will monitor you for 30 minutes. Once you are stable, you are discharged home with instructions. These include:

  • Rest for 24 hours except to use bathroom.
  • Gradually return to usual activities.
  • Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activities for six weeks.
  • Use ice for 20-minute intervals several times each day for pain.
  • Take medications as prescribed by the doctor.

Does kyphoplasty work?

According to clinical studies, the success rate is around 90% for balloon kyphoplasty. This procedure is safe and effective, and most patients report improved quality of life following the procedure.

Resources

Berenson J, Pflugmacher R, Jarzem P, et al.; Cancer Patient Fracture Evaluation (CAFE) Investigators. Balloon kyphoplasty versus non-surgical fracture management for treatment of painful vertebral body compression fractures in patients with cancer: a multicentre, randomised controlled trial. Lancet Oncol. 2011 Mar;12(3):225-35.

Cortet B, Cotten A, Boutry N, et al. Percutaneous vertebroplasty in the treatment of osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures: an open prospective study. J Rheumatol. 1999;26:2222–2228.

Fourney DR, Schomer DF, Nader R, et al. Percutaneous vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty for painful vertebral body fractures in cancer patients. J Neurosurg. 2003;98:21–30

Wardlaw D, Cummings SR, Van Meirhaeghe J, et al. Efficacy and safety of balloon kyphoplasty compared with non-surgical care for vertebral compression fracture (FREE): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2009;373(9668):1016-24.