Vertebroplasty & Kyphoplasty

What are Vertebroplasty and Balloon Kyphoplasty?

Vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures that treat spine fractures caused by osteoporosis, tumors, and cancer. Both procedures involve the injection of bone cement into the vertebral body using real-time biplane image guidance. This cement creates an internal cast. The goal is to relieve pain, reduce future fracture risk, and prevent spinal deformity, which often accompanies compression fractures.

Balloon kyphoplasty involves stabilizing or reducing the fracture with a balloon device, and cement is injected into the space upon removal. Kyphoplasty can help straighten the spine and prevent additional fractures. With vertebroplasty, cement is injected into the vertebral body to stabilize the fracture. The type of procedure performed is dependent upon the location and severity of the fracture, as well as the length of time since the fracture occurred.

What happens during the test?

You will be asked to lie face down on the operating table. You will receive sedation through an IV, which is placed in your arm. Sleepiness or slight memory loss is common. Once sedation has been administered, the interventional radiologist will make a small incision in the back. Guided by real-time X-ray, the doctor will introduce a needle into the fractured vertebral body. The fracture will be filled with bone cement. With balloon kyphoplasty, the fractured bone will be expanded with a balloon device leaving a cavity in the vertebral body. The balloon will then be removed and cement injected into the cavity created by the balloon. The cement forms an internal cast, which dries in about 15 minutes, and the incision is stitched.

How do I prepare for the test?

An MRI will be performed prior to treatment to determine the extent and exact location of the fracture. We will contact you to schedule the MRI. If you cannot have an MRI because of a pacemaker or stimulator, a bone scan can be performed. Upon examination of the MRI, we will contact you to schedule your appointment. Intervenous (IV) conscious sedation will be administered, so a driver is required. Plan 1 hour for each repaired fracture plus a 3 to 4-hour recovery time.

Following the Procedure

You will be moved into recovery for 3-4 hours. You can resume normal activities the next day. Any special instructions will be given to you after the procedure. Pain relief and increased mobility may be immediate or take a few days. We will call you in two weeks to check in and see how you are doing.

Benefits and Risks

Overall, 9 out of 10 patients experience sustained pain relief and increased mobility. Narcotic use and bed rest is less common than in non-surgically treated patients. Left untreated, VCFs are associated with an increased risk of further collapse, future fractures, chronic pain, spinal deformity, and kyphosis.

Although the complication rate is low, vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty have risks to be considered including infection, complications from sedation, and cement leakage, which can cause pain or paralysis. Our radiologist will thoroughly explain risks and benefits prior to the procedure.



* The safety of our patients and those who accompany them to our office is of the utmost importance to the physicians and staff at Iowa Radiology. Please make arrangements for someone to care for your child/children during your exam. Thank you for your cooperation.

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