Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures for vertebra compression fractures (VCF), which are fractures in vertebra, the small bones that make up the spinal column.
When a vertebra fractures, the usual rectangular shape of the bone becomes compressed and distorted, causing pain. These compression fractures, which may involve the collapse of one or more vertebrae in the spine, are a common symptom and result of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that results in a loss of normal bone density, mass and strength, leading to a condition in which bones are increasingly porous or full of small holes and vulnerable to breaking. Vertebrae can also become weakened by cancer.
- Vertebroplasty uses a type of X-ray called a fluoroscopy to guide a needle into a compression fracture, and then a special type of bone cement is injected into the fractured vertebrae. The cement hardens, stabilizing and strengthening the bone.
- A variation of this procedure, called kyphoplasty, features a balloon that is inserted into the vertebral body and inflated to restore the bone to a more natural position. When deflated, the balloon creates a hollow cavity that is replaced by bone cement. Both procedures provide immediate pain relief in most cases.