FAQ’s on Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
What are Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are each a spinal treatment designed to create stability for the spine and provide pain relief to a patient suffering from a spinal fracture. Each treatment method is an injection of specialized cement into the area of damage, which will then harden to create a stable foundation after the spine has been fractured. Some of the more common causes of fractures that we treat include vertebral compression fractures, trauma related fractures, and osteoporosis.
The decision of which procedure to perform by the patient will be based on how long the fracture has been present. An MRI will be used to assess whether or not the body is still trying to heal the fracture. If so, a kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty can provide significant relief to a patient. If the body is no longer trying to naturally heal a fracture, neither procedure is indicated.
What are Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty designed to treat?
Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are unique treatment methods for spinal fractures, regardless of the original cause of fracture. Any patient who has suffered a compression fracture may be able to re-obtain both substantial pain relief and functionality of the spine by stabilizing it through vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.
How are Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty performed?
Each of these procedures is a different approach towards stabilizing the spine. A vertebroplasty is the careful insertion on a catheter, guided by fluoroscopic imaging, into the fractured area of the spine to prepare for the injection of bone cement.
Once placed in the desired area, cement will be injected and given time to solidify inside the vertebrae (takes about 20 minutes). While this does not heal the damage in any way, it provides reliable stabilization to the spine which will reduce pain felt from bone fragments and help to restore spinal function.
A kyphoplasty is also performed with fluoroscopic imaging and a catheter, but has additional steps. Commonly, a kyphoplasty will use multiple catheters with small balloons attached the end. Saline will be injected into these balloons, which are designed to swell within the fracture to disperse bone fragments and create an empty space for bone cement to be inserted in.
Once a void has been created by the balloons, they are removed to allow for cement to be inserted. The effects are similar to that of a vertebroplasty, but help provide better stabilization as there are no pieces of bone intermingled with the hardened cement. The cement is also injected under much higher pressure during a vertebroplasty, which can potentially cause extravasation of the cement outside of the bone.
How well do Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty work?
For patients still under symptomatic effects of the fracture, each of these treatments can provide substantial benefit in stabilizing the spine to restore function and relieve pain. Patients can expect to feel pain relief immediately following the procedure, but may still feel the effects of muscle spasms in the days following the procedure as the spine adapts to the new vertebral strength.
Over 90% of patients receiving a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty in the correct time window (two to three months following the fracture) report a significant amount of relief.
What are the risks of Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?
While each procedure has very low risk, there is still risk present. Patients run the risk of infection due to the needles used for injection, and may also experience pain, bleeding, or swelling at the injection sites.
Patients may also experience an allergic reaction to the medications used during the procedure. Rarely, it is possible for the spinal cement to leak into other areas of the spine during the procedure which may produce secondary side effects which may include neurologic deficit.
What is the bottom line with Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty?
Each of these is a very low risk procedure that can provide significant relief to a patient who has suffered a spinal fracture.
If you or a loved one suspects a vertebral compression fracture with mid to low back pain , a Denver pain management doctor can help decrease your pain. This may include pain medications, spinal bracing or a kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty.
Call Colorado Pain today at (720) 306-9575!