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Kyphoplasty to Treat Compression Fractures

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What Is Kyphoplasty?

Doctors use kyphoplasty to treat compression fractures, which are small cracks in the bones of your spine from an injury.

These fractures are common in people with osteoporosis. In time, they can make the bones of the spine collapse and cause pain.

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure in most cases.

It has high success rates for:

  • Stopping pain caused by fractures.
  • Stabilizing the bone.
  • Restoring some or all body height people lose due to compression.

Contact the UPMC Department of Neurosurgery

To make an appointment or ask a question, fill out our UPMC Neurosurgery contact form or call:

  • In the U.S.: 1-412-647-3685.
  • Outside the U.S.: 1-877-320-8762.

Kyphoplasty is generally an outpatient procedure. At UPMC, our neurosurgeons perform kyphoplasty at UPMC Presbyterian.

Is Kyphoplasty the Right Treatment for Me?

Doctors might suggest kyphoplasty if you have compression fractures and:

  • Have had severe pain that hasn't gotten better with rest, bracing, physical therapy, or medicine.
  • Have had a spine injury that caused broken bones.
  • Have a type of cancer that damages the bone, such as multiple myeloma, or a cancerous tumor in the bone.
  • Are elderly or frail and your bones may not heal as quickly after a fracture.

To decide if kyphoplasty is right for you, your doctor will:

  • Do an exam.
  • Ask about your pain, mobility, and goals.
  • Talk about your health history and ask what medicines you take. It's a good idea to bring a list of your prescriptions with you.

Kyphoplasty is not the solution for all back pain.

In fact, doctors do not use this treatment for conditions like herniated disks or arthritic pain. They also don't use it to treat younger people in most cases.

Kyphoplasty Risks

All surgeries come with risks.

Though kyphoplasty is largely safe, there are a few possible complications such as:

  • Infection.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Bleeding.
  • Nerve injuries.

There are also risks with receiving general anesthesia, including breathing or heart problems.

    What to Expect With Kyphoplasty


    Pre-op tests

    Your doctor may perform imaging tests, such as a CT scan, an MRI, or X-rays. This helps them gather more details about your fracture.

    They'll likely test your blood too to make sure that it clots as it should.

    A few days before your kyphoplasty

    You may also need to stop taking certain medicines in the days before the procedure, such as:

    • Aspirin.
    • Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
    • Blood thinners.

    They may also prescribe a drug that strengthens your bones.

    We'll give you specific instructions about eating or drinking in the hours before the procedure.

    During kyphoplasty

    Before we start, you'll get either general anesthesia (meaning you're asleep) or a local anesthetic (that numbs the area).

    With a local anesthetic, you're awake but won't feel any pain. We might also give you an IV with a sedative to help you relax.

    With kyphoplasty, you'll lie face down and your surgeon will:

    • Make a small incision near the fracture.
    • Insert a thin tube into the fractured part of the vertebrae.
    • Place a special balloon into the tube and inflate it. This creates a small cavity of space.
    • Deflate and remove the balloon.
    • Use a low-pressure injection to insert cement-like material into the cavity. It hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone.

    Kyphoplasty takes about an hour to complete. If the surgeon needs to treat more than one part of your spine, it may take longer.

    Kyphoplasty complications

    It's possible for the bone cement to leak from the cavity into the area around the bone causing pain. You may need surgery to correct it if it moves somewhere dangerous, like the spinal canal.

    But small amounts of cement leaking often don't cause serious problems.

    Recovery After Kyphoplasty

    Most people can:

    • Go home the same day. Your doctor will most likely advise you to rest in bed for about 24 hours.
    • Walk within an hour of the procedure.
    • Slowly return to normal activity after the first 24 hours.

    You'll want to avoid doing anything strenuous for about 6 weeks.

    Your doctor will give you details on what you can and cannot do.

    After kyphoplasty, many people report feeling less back pain right away. Others notice a difference after a few days.

    It's common to feel a bit of soreness at the site of the needle. An ice pack can help.

    Our goal after kyphoplasty is to:

    • Reduce or stop your pain.
    • Improve your mobility.
    • Give you a better quality of life.

    You may also need less pain medicine.

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