FAQ’s on Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty in Las Vegas

Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are procedures used to treat vertebral compression fracture (VCF) of the spine. These fractures are caused by osteoporosis, cancer, and bone tumors. As many as 28 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis, which causes all bones to become weak and brittle.

Are vertebral compression fractures common?

Vertebral compression fractures affect approximately 25% of all postmenopausal women in America. For women over the age of 80 years, this rate increases to 40%. The rate of vertebral compression fracture is around 15%.

Who is candidate for kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty?

These two procedures are bone-stabilizing techniques used to restore vertebrae bone height and strengthen the collapsed vertebral body. The longer the fracture has been present, the less success for the procedure. Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are more effective when done within a few weeks of the original bone collapse.

What do I do to prepare for the vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty procedure?

Prior to the procedure, the doctor discusses the benefits and complications with you, and you must sign a consent form. Be sure to show the doctor which medications you are taking, as blood-thinning agents must be held for a few days beforehand. Since a mild sedative is given during the procedure, you must have someone to drive you home. After you arrive at the medical center, a nurse has you change into a gown, and places an IV line in your arm.

How are these procedures performed?

With vertebroplasty, you will be positioned on your stomach. The back is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and numbed with an anesthetic. The doctor makes a small incision over the VFC, and inserts a special catheter into the vertebra using x-ray guidance. Bone cement is injected using direct pressure, taking around 10 minutes to harden. With kyphoplasty, a needle with balloon is inserted into the vertebra, and the balloon is inflated to restore bone height. Cement can then be injected into the space to repair the fracture.

Which procedure is the best?

Kyphoplasty is superior to vertebroplasty when there is a severe collapse of the fractured vertebra or when the front of the spine tilts forward (wedging). Kyphoplasty can prevent humpback (kyphosis) and spine deformities.

What can I expect after the procedure?

Following the vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty procedure, a nurse monitors you for around 30-45 minutes and asks you questions about pain. You must lie flat for the entire time, and some patients have to stay overnight for observation. This will depend on your underlying medical conditions, health, and extent of injury. You will gradually return to normal activities and follow strict discharge instructions.

Is vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty effective?

The efficacy rate for both these procedures is around 90%, according to recent clinical studies. Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty have low complication rates and are effective for pain relief.

What risks, complications, and side effects are associated with these procedures?

As with all minimally invasive procedures, there are some complications and risks associated with kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty. These include damage to nerves, bone cement leakage, blood vessel injury, blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism), and infection. Side effects to sedatives include dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion, and there is a slight risk of allergic reaction to medications and solutions used during these procedures.

Resources

Belkoff SM, Maroney M, Fenton DC, & Mathis JM (1999). An in vitro biomechanical evaluation of bone cements used in percutaneous vertebroplasty. Bone, 29.

Melton LJ 3d. Epidemiology of spinal osteoporosis. Spine. 1997;22(24 Suppl):2S–11S.

Melton LJ 3d, Kan SH, Frye MA, Wahner HW, O’Fallon WM, Riggs BL. Epidemiology of vertebral fractures in women. Am J Epidemiol. 1989;129:1000–11.

Moon, FS, Kim, HS, Park, JO, et al. (2007). The Incidence of New Vertebral Compression Fractures in Women after Kyphoplasty and Factors Involved. Yonsei Medical Journal, 48(4), 645-652.