What is Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a new minimally invasive technique in vertebral compression fractures. It is primarily performed for patients who suffer vertebral fracture due to diminished bone strength.

Patients who benefit the most from kyphoplasty include those with osteoporosis or age related bone loss. In addition, steroids also weaken the bones of young people, who then face the risk of compression fractures.

Aims of Kyphoplasty

The main purposes of kyphoplasty are to:

stop the pain associated with the fracture

stabilize the vertebra

restore vertebral body height

Kyphoplasty is one of the latest breakthroughs in the field of minimally invasive techniques. Since the technique was adopted in 1998, more than 200,000 kyphoplasties have been performed worldwide.

By achieving fracture stabilization and correction of spinal deformity, patients experience significant reduction in pain and improvement in mobility, thus leading to an overall improvement in the quality of life.

Kyphoplasty – The Procedure

Kyphoplasty uses a two-step process, inclusive of inserting a special balloon device and injection of the bone cement.

It involves an introduction of a cannula into the vertebral body followed by the insertion of an inflatable balloon. The balloon is inserted through tiny incisions along the spine and then inflated to expand the broken bone.

Once done, the bone cement is then injected into the fracture. This restores height and stabilizes the compressed vertebra. After the balloon is removed, there is an empty space within the vertebral body that allows for the low-pressure injection of the cement-like material polymethylmethacrylate into the cavity created by the balloon.

The procedure might be performed under intravenous sedation and the patient might be administered a local or general anesthetic.

Kyphoplasty is considered most successful in restoring bone height and correcting deformity if done on relatively recent fractures, diagnosed within two to three months. Patients are able to return home the same day and resume their daily activities almost immediately after the surgery.

Kyphoplasty versus Vertebroplasty

Studies indicate that kyphoplasty has several potential advantages over vertebroplasty. Both the procedures aim at treating osteoporosis fractures where a cement-like material is injected directly into the fractured bone. This stabilizes the fracture and provides pain relief.

However, kyphoplasty has an additional function. Before the bone cement is injected, a special balloon is inserted and gently inflated inside the fractured vertebrae. This step restores the height of the bone, thus reducing deformity of the spine.

Potential Risks and Complications

As with all surgical procedures, kyphoplasty also carries a number of risks and potential complications. Here we list a few of them:

The most commonly observed complication is the leakage of cement out of the vertebra with the injection, prior to final hardening.

If the cement leaks back into the spinal cord, it can compress the spinal cord and nerves, leading to new pain and neurological problems.

Though rare, pulmonary embolism of lungs has been reported due to kyphoplasty. The procedure is also known to cause certain fatal complications.