FAQ’s on Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
What are Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?
Both the vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty treatments are unique approaches designed to accomplish the same goal: the restoration of spinal stabilization following an injury due to a fracture. By providing stabilization through the use of specialty spinal cement, both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are able to provide symptomatic relief to patients and to assist in the recovery process of the injury (by helping the spine to remain solidified and thereby stabilized).
What will Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty treat?
Each treatment has a different methodology to providing patients assistance with a spinal fracture, with a primary procedural focus on patients who currently have one or more fractures producing symptomatic pain. The most common method of vertebral fracture is for a spinal compression fracture to occur. Compression fractures occur when one or more vertebrae are subjected to force beyond what the bone can endure, at which point it fractures.
Compression fractures are much more common in patients who have had one or more conditions that weakened the vertebrae, and occur more frequently in elderly patients with nearly 700,000 cases of fracture each year. The most common conditions that weaken the spine are cancer and osteoporosis. One important note for patients is that minor back pain may be an early indication of a compression fracture. It is possible for a break to occur and be minor enough for patients to not realize the fracture is present. Typically however, fractures produce severe pain and cause the surrounding muscles to spasm.
How are Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty performed?
Each technique is used with the same end goal in mind: stabilization of the spine to provide pain relief for a patient and to improve the recovery process following fracture. The different between a vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty lie in how the procedure is performed.
With a vertebroplasty, patients will receive a small incision into the skin above the damaged portion of the spine to provide the physician access. A catheter will be placed through this incision into the fracture portion of the spine, with guidance provided by fluoroscopic imaging (series of X-rays taken quickly to create a real-time image of where the catheter is located). After correctly placing the catheter, spinal cement will be injected directly into the fracture spine where it will solidify the area to provide support. Further explanation and a testament of the effectiveness of vertebroplasty can be found inside (Vertebroplasty, 2013).
A kyphoplasty procedure begins in the same manner, with a catheter guided through a small incision using fluoroscopic imaging. After correct placement of the catheter has been established however, the procedures differ. With a kyphoplasty, a saline filled balloon will be carefully and gently expanded into the area of spinal fracture to clear the remaining debris and residual pieces of damaged bone. This is done to create an empty area for the injection of spinal cement. Further explanation of effectiveness for kyphoplasty can be found in (Percutaneous balloon kyphoplasty for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures, 2014)
After the application procedure, regardless of which is used, the spinal cement will harden into a solid support base for previously damaged vertebrae. Each is performed with a goal of providing spinal support to obtain pain relief, and are not designed as a treatment for the original fracture.
How well do Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty work?
The primary different between a vertebroplasty and a kyphoplasty lies only in their injection procedure, with each acting a very reliable method of providing symptomatic relief with a minimally invasive procedure. Approximately 90% of patients receiving either of these delivery methods at our clinic are able to obtain symptomatic relief. Patients who are under the suspicion of having a spinal fracture are strongly encouraged to contact us, as the sooner treatment is performed the better relief will be.