Vertebral augmentation, which includes vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, are procedures where bone cement is injected into a fractured vertebra to relieve back pain caused by vertebral compression fractures.
Patients can suffer vertebral compression fractures from a variety of ways- most notably trauma or as a result from osteoporosis. A fractured spine vertebrae is extremely painful and there is very little a patient may do to relieve the pain. Oftentimes they cannot complete their basic activities because of the severe pain involved.
Vertebral compression fractures can be diagnosed with x-ray or with MRI. Once the compression fracture is diagnosed, the patient may elect to move forward with conservative care or with a kyphoplasty procedure. Conservative management involves wearing a back brace at all times (except when sleeping). The back brace may be worn for several months until the bone heals on its own.
Alternatively, the patient may elect to move forward with a kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty. This outpatient minimally invasive procedure is usually performed with local anesthesia and light sedation. During the procedure, bone cement is injected through needle into the collapsed or fractured vertebra. It is not necessary to make an incision. The needle is placed with fluoroscopic x-ray guidance. The cement quickly hardens and forms a support structure within the vertebra that provide stabilization and strength. Once the procedure is completed, the vertebral body should be solidified and the patient will no longer need bracing. On many occasions, the patient’s pain resolves.