Vertebral Compression Fractures

Vertebral compression fractures affect approximately 25 percent of all postmenopausal women in the United States. The prevalence of this condition steadily increases with advancing age, reaching 40 percent in women 80 years of age. Acute and chronic pain in the elderly commonly is attributed to severe pain from vertebral compression fractures, and often leads to further disability. Fractures also lead to kyphosis (forward curvature of the spine) which can result in decreased lung ventilation putting patients at risk for pneumonia which can be life threatening.

Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty

Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are used to treat painful vertebral compression fractures in the spinal column, to stabilize the bone, and to restore some or all of the lost vertebral body height due to the fracture. Such fractures are a common result of osteoporosis and can be secondary to injury, or a tumor.
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During a vertebroplasty/kyphoplasty procedure, a small incision is made in the back through which the doctor places a narrow tube using imaging guidance ensuring the correct position. The tube creates a path through the back into the fractured area through the pedicle of the involved vertebrae. Your doctor may inject a cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) into the fractured bone (vertebroplasty) or insert a balloon into the fractured bone to create a space and then fill it with cement (kyphoplasty). This pasty material hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone. Long-term pain relief occurs almost immediately, within hours of the procedure. About 85 percent of patients regain lost mobility and become more active.