Kyphoplasty Surgical Procedure

Kyphoplasty Surgical Procedure

Kyphoplasty surgical procedures are used to stabilize vertebrae and restore vertebral height after a spinal compression fracture. It frequently alleviates pain associated with compression fractures and keeps them from worsening.

The goals of a kyphoplasty surgical procedure are designed to:

  • Stop the pain caused by a spinal fracture
  • Stabilize the bone
  • Restore some or all of the lost vertebral body height due to the compression fracture

Kyphoplasty is a type of vertebral augmentation for compression fractures. Vertebral augmentation is a category of surgical procedures used to stabilize a fractured vertebra to reduce the patient’s pain. These procedures are termed vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, or radiofrequency vertebral augmentation.

Most people who undergo some vertebral augmentation have suffered a fracture in a spinal vertebra called a compression fracture. A compression fracture is usually caused by relatively minor trauma in patients with osteoporosis, a disease that leaves spinal vertebrae weak and brittle and prone to fracture. Fractures can also be caused by a spinal infection or tumor or by more significant trauma to the spine.

Surgical Procedure
During kyphoplasty surgery, a small incision is made in the back, through which the doctor places a narrow tube. Using fluoroscopy to guide it to the correct position, the tube creates a path through the back into the fractured area through the pedicle of the involved vertebrae.

Using X-ray images, the doctor inserts a special balloon through the tube and into the vertebrae, then gently and carefully inflates it. As the balloon inflates, it elevates the fracture, returning the pieces to a more normal position. It also compacts the soft inner bone to create a cavity inside the vertebrae.

The balloon is removed and the doctor uses specially designed instruments under low pressure to fill the cavity with a cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). After being injected, the pasty material hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone.

Kyphoplasty surgery to treat a fracture from osteoporosis is performed at a hospital under local or general anesthesia. Other logistics for a typical kyphoplasty procedure are:

  • The kyphoplasty procedure takes about one hour for each vertebra involved.
  • Patients will be observed closely in the recovery room immediately following the kyphoplasty procedure.
  • Patients may spend one day in the hospital after the kyphoplasty procedure.
  • Patients should not drive until their doctor approves them. If they are released on the day of the kyphoplasty surgery, they will need to arrange for transportation home from the hospital.

Pain relief will be immediate for some patients. In others, elimination or reduction of pain is reported within two days. Patients can return to their normal daily activities at home, although strenuous exertion, such as heavy lifting, should be avoided for at least six weeks.

Patients should see their physician to begin or review their treatment plan for osteoporosis, including medications to prevent further bone loss.

Kyphoplasty cannot correct an established spine deformity, and certain patients with osteoporosis are not candidates for this treatment. Patients experiencing painful symptoms or spinal deformities from recent osteoporotic compression fractures are likely candidates for kyphoplasty. The procedure should be completed within eight weeks of the fracture’s occurrence for the highest probability of restoring height.

Risks and Complications
Some general surgical risks apply to kyphoplasty, including a reaction to anesthesia and infection. Other risks that are specific to the kyphoplasty procedure and vertebroplasty include:

  • Nerve damage or a spinal cord injury from malpositioned instruments placed in the back
  • Nerve injury or spinal cord compression from leaking of the PMMA into veins or epidural space
  • Allergic reaction to the solution used to see the balloon on the X-ray image as it inflates
  • It is unknown whether kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty will increase the number of fractures at adjacent levels of the spine. Bench studies on treated bone have shown that inserting PMMA does not change the stiffness of the bone, but human studies have not been done. Osteoporosis is a chronic, progressive disease. As stated earlier, patients who have sustained fractures from osteoporosis are at an increased risk for additional fractures due to the loss of bone strength caused by osteoporosis.

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