Many older adults will experience a gradual decrease in bone density as they age, making their bones more brittle and likely to break. This condition, known as osteoporosis, affects women more than men and can lead to painful fractures in the spine. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are in many cases an effective treatment to relieve pain and prevent further injury associated with osteoporosis.
Both procedures are usually performed on the lower thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) spine.
In addition, these two procedures may be used as part of cancer therapy as certain cancers can spread bone metastasis that may also affect the spine. If cancer metastasizes and infiltrates the vertebrae, it can weaken the bone and result in instability and fractures in the spine. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty can also be used to treat spinal fractures related to cancer.
How it works
Like vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty is a vertebral augmentation procedure used to treat fractures by injecting a damaged vertebra with bone cement. Kyphoplasty, however, involves an extra step: returning the injured vertebra to its original position before stabilizing it, typically with the help of a medical balloon. This helps restore height and reduce the deformation, or kyphosis, of the spine.
During kyphoplasty, a doctor inserts a narrow tube into the affected vertebra via a small incision in the back. They then insert a special balloon through the tube, place it in the vertebra, and carefully inflate it. This lifts the fractured bone and returns it to a normal position. The doctor then removes the balloon and fills the resulting cavity with bone cement, holding the bone in place and stabilizing the fracture. This usually results in an immediate reduction in pain.
The procedure is most effective in preventing deformity when performed on recent fractures – usually less than six weeks old.
Complications from vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are rare, but the most common problem is cement leaking into other areas of the spine. Both vertebral augmentation procedures are considered minimally invasive and have small risks of bleeding and nerve damage.
Only an experienced doctor can diagnose and treat a spinal fracture. Premier Healthcare can put you in contact with some of Germany’s leading orthopedic and spinal surgeons. Contact us for more information.