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What's the Difference Between Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty?

The vertebrae in your spinal column are subjected to numerous forces every day. Each time you take a step — or run or jump — the shock of impact stresses your vertebrae. If your vertebrae are weak because you have osteoporosis, they could develop fractures that cause the bone to collapse.

Compression fractures may put pressure on nearby nerves, causing pain whenever you move. Severe fractures are also the reason some people become smaller as they age. And why women, in particular, may develop the age-related hunched-back condition known as “dowager’s hump.”

As a spine expert, Jocelyn R. Idema, DO, and her team here at Steel City Spine and Orthopedic Center are dedicated to preserving your spinal column’s integrity and height. That’s why we offer in-office kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty procedures. 

If your compression fractures haven’t responded to conservative treatment and lifestyle changes, you may be a candidate for an in-office surgical correction. 

What’s the difference between kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty, and how do you decide which is right for you? Here’s the breakdown.

Vertebroplasty

If you have pain or immobility from mild compression fractures, you may be a candidate for vertebroplasty. Vertebroplasty is the simpler of the two procedures. Rather than restoring height to your fractured vertebrae, vertebroplasty seals the fractures and stabilizes your bones.

As with kyphoplasty, Dr. Idema first takes X-rays and other imaging studies to determine the location of your compression fractures. After you receive sedation medication and anesthetics to numb the pain, you lie prone on the treatment table while Dr. Idema inserts a hollow needle into the vertebra that has compression fractures.

She uses fluoroscopic guidance to steer the needle directly to the fracture. She then slowly injects a special cement called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) through the needle into the fracture to close and stabilize it. 

She may need to administer more than one injection to completely fill the empty space.

Vertebroplasty stabilizes your vertebrae so you can move with ease and without pain. But because it doesn't restore height to a collapsed vertebra, it’s best for simple or hairline fractures.

Kyphoplasty

Many aspects of kyphoplasty are similar to vertebroplasty. You’re awake but pain-free in both procedures. The main difference between the two is that in kyphoplasty, Dr. Idema first inserts a balloon into the fracture space.

She inflates the balloon to restore the collapsed vertebrae’s height. The pressure of the balloon lifts the bone upward. The balloon’s presence also forces the soft inner part of the bone outward, compacting it, so it creates a stable cavity in the newly opened space.

Dr. Idema then fills the cavity with PMMA. The cement not only fills and stabilizes the fracture, it adds back the volume and height lost to the compression. 

Both procedures only take about an hour per vertebra treated. You may need to wait several hours before returning home. Recovery begins after just a few days but may continue about six weeks. 

You don’t have to live with painful or degenerative compression fractures anymore. Contact us today about kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty and to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Pittsburgh, McKees Rocks, and Washington, Pennsylvania.

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