Kyphoplasty is a surgical procedure in which a doctor uses an inflated balloon to return a fractured vertebra to its original position. This process can alleviate pain, stabilize the bone and even restore lost body height resulting from compression fracture. Individuals with osteoporosis make up most kyphoplasty patients, but not all people with that condition will be good candidates.

The surgeon places a narrow tube into the back via a small incision. Fluoroscopy and x-rays assist the surgeon in locating the fractured area. Once the balloon is inserted through the tube, it is carefully inflated, which elevates the fractured area and compacts soft inner bone. A cavity is created inside the vertebrae, which is then filled with a cement-like material after the balloon is removed. The material hardens quickly, which stabilizes the bone.

Kyphoplasty surgery is often used to treat a fracture from osteoporosis. The surgery is usually performed at a hospital under local or general anesthesia, and it takes about one hour per vertebra. Most often, patients will spend a day in the hospital following this procedure.

Relief from pain will often be immediate, or will subside or disappear within a couple of days. Patients may usually resume normal daily activities, but should avoid strenuous exertion for six or more weeks.

A minimally invasive procedure, vertebroplasty utilizes acrylic bone cement to fill in the spaces of a fractured vertebra. This process seeks to stabilize the spinal fracture, thereby eliminating the associated pain.

Vertebroplasty can usually be accomplished in about one hour, with local anesthesia and light sedation. Because the procedure involves a small puncture instead of an open incision, the patient will usually be released the same day.

Once inserted via a very small needle, the acrylic bone cement hardens within 10 minutes, leaving a congealed, stabilized bone—a sort of internal cast for the vertebra.

While patients are generally alert and mobile following the procedure, they should not drive themselves home or ride long distances immediately after the procedure. Additionally, patients who are frail or will not have assistance at home may need a short hospital stay.

Bed rest for 24 hours after the surgery is usually recommended, and the patient can gradually resume activities thereafter. Minor soreness is usually relieved with an ice pack.

Outcomes are often very favorable with vertebroplasty, with the majority of patients experiencing a 90 percent or better reduction in pain as quickly as 24-48 hours following surgery.