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What is Vertebral Augmentation?
Vertebral augmentation, often called kyphoplasty, is a minimally invasive procedure to treat vertebral compression fractures. In this procedure, a cavity is created within a fractured vertebral body and medical-grade bone cement is injected into that cavity. The cement hardens quickly, stabilizing the fracture and strengthening the weakened bone. Most patients experience pain relief following the cement injection.
In some procedures, height restoration of the fractured vertebral body may also be attempted. This is done by inflating a small, medical balloon in the vertebral body. Inflating the balloon creates a cavity and, in some cases, helps restore the original alignment of the spine. The balloon is removed before the bone cement is injected into the cavity.
What to Expect
During the procedure, the patient lays face down on a table and is given medications to provide mild sedation. The skin and underlying tissues are numbed and, under high quality x-ray imaging, a needle is passed carefully into the fractured vertebral body. Depending on the fracture, one or two needles may be used. When the needle is in the appropriate position, a balloon or other instrument is used to create a cavity within the vertebral body and is then removed. After the cavity is created, the cement is mixed and slowly injected into the cavity during constant x-ray monitoring. When the cavity is filled, the needle is removed. For one fracture, the procedure usually takes less than one hour. Some patients have more than one vertebral compression fracture. In these cases, multiple fractures may be treated during the same session.
After the procedure, the patient is allowed to carefully test their mobility. Sometimes an overnight stay in the hospital is necessary, but many patients go home the same day. Most patients experience significant pain relief within the first 1-2 days following vertebral augmentation. Medications may be prescribed following the procedure and should be used only as directed. These include:
Pain medications – usually reduced over several days after the procedure
Osteoporosis therapy medications – to prevent further bone loss and reduce the risk of future fractures
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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. There are potential risks and recovery takes time. People with conditions limiting rehabilitation should not have this surgery. Only a spine surgeon can tell if spine treatment is right for you.