Have you heard the terms “vertebroplasty” and “kyphoplasty” used in regards to the treatment of a spinal compression fracture? If so, it may be important to understand what they are as well as the differences between these two procedures. Both of these procedures treat the same injury, a compression fracture in the spine often caused by osteoporosis, but in specifically different ways. What are the real differences and what do they actually do? Let’s look at them in more detail.
Differences between vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty
With kyphoplasty, a balloon (or sometimes two) is used to inflate the damaged area in an attempt to recreate the original spinal shape. Once the balloon reaches the correct shape and height of the spine, bone cement is injected into the space. This helps retain the original shape of the spine before the fracture.
A vertebroplasty also injects bone cement into the spine but there is no step to restore the original shape and height of the fractured area.
Side effects and risks
As with any procedure, it is always important to understand the risks that every procedure carries with it. There are risk factors associated with these procedures, though these are normally minimal, including:
- The cement can potentially leak out of the spinal area before it is fully hardened causing additional pain
- The cement can press on the nerves in the spine causing additional pain
- Rare reports of pulmonary embolism and death have occurred
Talk to your pain doctor about these risks along with some other detailed questions in regards to the procedure. You may want to know more about what type of bone cement they use and if it has been approved by the FDA for the procedure. You also want to know your doctor’s personal experience with this treatment for other patients.
Have you undergone kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty for a spinal compression fracture?