People who have osteoporosis or cancer of the spine may develop Vertebral Compression Fractures (VCF) that can become very painful. VCF occurs when the weakened vertebrae collapses, compressing the portion of the spinal cord that is above the affected disk. Kyphoplasty is a type of surgery that re-inflates the spaces between vertebrae, and repairs the fractures.
The procedure is reserved mainly for patients who suffer from osteoporosis. Those who experience compression fractures due to scoliosis, spinal stenosis or injury are not usually candidates for kyphoplasty.
A tiny ballon-like tool, called a tamp, is inserted into the back during kyphoplasty. The balloon pumps air into the spinal column to relieve the compression. Cement is then used to repair the fractured areas of the bones.
Recovery time is minimal, as kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive, outpatient surgery. Soreness from the procedure itself resolves itself in about two weeks.
The main goals of kyphoplasty are to eliminate pain from VCF and restore normal shape to the spine. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports that close to 95 percent of patients who have had this procedure would call their kyphoplasties successful.
Complications from kyphoplasty are rare, but most occur when the spinal cord and involved nerves can sometimes become irritated by the cement. In very rare cases, the cement may make its way to the lungs and cause an infection.