Sarah Lewis, PharmD

What is kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that treats vertebral compression fractures. A vertebral fracture causes the vertebra to collapse and compress, causing pain and a hunched posture. The procedure involves inserting a balloon into the fractured vertebra to create a cavity. The cavity is filled with an acrylic cement mixture. This restores the height and shape of the vertebra and relieves pain.

Kyphoplasty is most successful in treating vertebral fractures, correcting spine deformity, and restoring vertebra height within the first three months of the injury. 

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Kyphoplasty is a minor procedure, but it still involves some risk. It is only one method used to treat vertebral compression fractures. Discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor to understand which options are right for you.  

Why is kyphoplasty performed? 

Your doctor may recommend kyphoplasty to treat vertebral compression fractures. Your doctor may only consider kyphoplasty for you if other treatment options that involve less risk of complications have been ineffective. Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion.

Vertebral compression fractures are often related to the following conditions: 


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  • Cancer, including bone cancer and multiple myeloma

  • Osteoporosis, which is a loss of bone mass and destruction of bone tissue that weakens the bones and makes them more likely to break. This is the most common cause of vertebral compression fractures.

  • Trauma, including spinal injuries

Who performs kyphoplasty?

The following specialists commonly perform kyphoplasty:

  • Interventional radiologists specialize in using imaging technology, such as X-rays and MRI, and catheter-based procedures to diagnose and treat many diseases.

  • Neuroradiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and conditions of the brain, spine, head, neck and nerves using radiation and other imaging technologies.

  • Neurosurgeons specialize in the medical and surgical care of people with diseases and conditions of the brain and nervous system.

  • Orthopedic surgeons specialize in treating problems of the bones and joints.

How is kyphoplasty performed?

Your kyphoplasty will be performed in a hospital or outpatient setting. It is a minor procedure that involves the following steps:

  1. You will dress in a patient gown and lie face down on a procedure table.

  2. Your team will insert an IV to provide fluids and medications.

  3. Your team will attach devices to monitor your vital signs.

  4. You will receive a sedative to relax you. You may have general anesthesia if you are in extreme pain from your vertebral compression fracture. General anesthesia is a combination of intravenous (IV) medications and gases that put you in a deep sleep. You are unaware of the procedure and will not feel any pain.

  5. You will lay face down to expose your spine. You will have pillows and supports to provide comfort and help keep you in position.

  6. Your team will shave, clean and cover the affected area of your spine with a surgical drape.

  7. Your doctor will numb the skin and muscles with an injection of local anesthetic. Some people have regional anesthesia, also known as a nerve block. It involves injecting an anesthetic around certain nerves to numb a large area of the body.

  8. Your doctor will insert a needle through your skin and into your fractured spinal vertebra. Your doctor will use real-time X-ray guidance to place the needle in the proper place.

  9. Your doctor will insert a balloon through the needle and inflate it to create a cavity in your vertebra. Then, your doctor will withdraw the balloon, inject medical grade cement into your vertebra, and remove the needle. The cement hardens within 15-20 minutes.

  10. Your doctor repeats the process for each fractured vertebra.

  11. Your team may take additional x-ray or CT im