Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure for people suffering with compression fractures of the spine. The procedure involves the insertion of a balloon into the collapsed vertebra, followed by injection of a special material. The material hardens and stabilizes the vertebra, preventing further movement, and may reduce the pain caused by bone rubbing against bone. Patients can resume their activities almost immediately following the procedure. Previously, the only treatment available to most people with this problem was weeks of bed rest and pain medications.
Through small incisions and using special x-rays, the doctor inserts a narrow tube into the damaged vertebra. Through this tube, a balloon is inserted into the center of the vertebral body. The balloon is then inflated, pushing the bone back towards its original height and shape. The balloon is then removed and the special material is injected into the remaining cavity. Once it hardens, it should stabilize the fractured vertebra near its normal height. Restoring the height of the vertebra is more successful if kyphoplasty is performed within six to eight weeks after the fracture. Kyphoplasty can be performed with local anesthetic or under general anesthesia. The procedure generally takes 30-60 minutes for each fracture treated.