Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures used to treat vertebral compression fractures in the spine. Spinal fractures are typically caused by degenerative changes in the spine, debilitating conditions like osteoporosis, or traumatic injuries. If vertebral compression fractures are left untreated, patients may develop a condition called kyphosis, which causes the spine to curve in a hunched position. Other complications include severe back pain, decreased lung capacity, limited mobility, difficulty sleeping, and depression. Although vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are similar procedures, they do have characteristics that set them apart. For instance, kyphoplasty uses an expandable balloon to raise the vertebra back to its normal height before injecting a special bone cement. Vertebroplasty does not. Nevertheless, both procedures are considered effective treatment options for vertebral compression fractures.
Depending on the type of procedure performed, vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty can take anywhere from 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete. To begin, patients receive conscious sedation while lying face down on an operating table. The surgical site is then cleaned and prepped for the hollow needle used during the procedure and the local anesthetic. The local anesthetic is injected into the skin over the fractured bone before an incision is made. After making a small incision, the physician inserts a fluoroscope (x-ray guidance) and hollow needle into the bone at the required angle to avoid the spinal cord. During kyphoplasty, a balloon is inserted into the vertebra and carefully inflated. Once the vertebra has been raised to the appropriate height, it is deflated and removed, leaving a space for the bone cement. This cement is then injected into the vertebra and the needle is withdrawn before the cement can harden. During vertebroplasty, the bone cement is injected into the vertebra without the use of the balloon. The incision is closed with stitches or steri-strips, and the patient is taken to a separate room to recover once the cement hardens.
The patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration will be monitored during the first few hours of recovery. Most patients are released the same day, but an Amerian Orthopedic and Wellness Center physician may advise an overnight stay if the patient is at risk of developing an infection or serious complication. Patients should rest and limit physical activity for the first 24 hours after vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty. An Amerian Orthopedic and Wellness Center physician will provide gentle stretching routines for the patient to practice during recovery. Furthermore, tips on how to stand, sit, sleep, bathe, and lift will be offered before discharge. Patients must keep the incision covered and dry for at least 24 hours. If signs of a fever, pain, swelling, redness, or infection are present, call Amerian Orthopedic and Wellness Center and notify a physician or nurse immediately.