What is kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is a procedure used to treat fractures or breaks in the vertebrae. The
vertebrae are the bones in your back that are stacked on top of each other to make
your spine. Your spine supports your weight, allows you to move, and protects your
spinal cord and the nerves.
Kyphoplasty is often discussed along with another procedure called vertebroplasty.
First the healthcare provider inflates 1 or 2 small balloon-like devices into the
broken vertebra to partly restore the height of the vertebra. The balloon(s) can then
be removed or left in place in the vertebra. A cement-like material is injected in
the cavity created by the balloon(s). With vertebroplasty, there are no balloons.
The healthcare provider just injects a cement-like material into the fractured vertebra
to make it more stable.
Why might I need kyphoplasty?
You may need a kyphoplasty if you have certain types of fractures, or broken areas,
in the vertebrae. In most cases, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis) is the cause
of these fractures. The vertebrae can also be broken or fractured in accidents or
from cancer. The fractures cause the bones to collapse or become compressed. The fractures
can cause pain, nerve damage, or lead to a hunched-over posture (kyphosis).
Kyphoplasty may make the bone a little taller to help make up for the height it loses
when it's compressed. The procedure often also relieves pain.
Usually healthcare providers perform kyphoplasty only after other treatments have
failed. These may include wearing a back brace, limiting activity, or taking pain
medicine for 6 to 12 weeks. Most vertebral fractures do not need to be treated with
What are the risks of kyphoplasty?
The risks involved in kyphoplasty include:
Increased back pain
Tingling, numbness, or weakness because of nerve damage
Allergic reactions to the dyes used during the X-rays that help the healthcare provider
put the balloon(s) in the right place
Cement leaking out of position and compressing vital structures, such as the spinal
The amount of radiation used during the X-ray procedures is considered minimal, and
the risks related to radiation exposure are very low. But if you are pregnant or suspect
that you might be, tell your healthcare provider.
There may be other risks, depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to
discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
How do I get ready for kyphoplasty?
Your healthcare provider will meet with you before the procedure to check your health
and do a physical exam. You will also have some tests done, such as X-rays or a magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) scan (which helps your healthcare provider see the fractures)
and blood tests.
Talk with your healthcare provider about any medicines, vitamins, herbs, or supplements
you're taking and if you’re allergic to any medicines or the dyes used during certain
You may need to stop taking aspirin or blood thinners before kyphoplasty. You may
be told to not eat or drink anything for several hours before the surgery. Bring someone
with you to the procedure to drive you home afterward.
Talk with your healthcare provider about what you need to do before your procedure.
What happens during kyphoplasty?
An anesthesia provider will put an IV line into a vein in your hand or arm to give
you medicine. You will either be given medicine to relax you and keep you from feeling
pain or to make you go to sleep before the surgery. You will lie face down on an operating
table during the surgery. X-ray equipment will be nearby.
The healthcare provider will put a needle through your skin and back muscles and into
the spinal bone (the vertebra). The balloon(s) will be put in through the needle and
inflated. This opens a space for the thick, paste-like cement and may help the bone
regain its normal size and shape. Next, your surgeon will inject the cement mixture
into the bone cavity. While this is done, X-ray images are checked to help ensure
that the cement goes into the right place. The surgeon will then remove the needle.
You may not need stitches in your back.
The entire procedure will probably take less than an hour. If the surgeon needs to
treat more than 1 vertebra, the procedure may take longer. You will spend time in
a recovery room after the surgery. You will probably lie flat on your back for about
an hour while the cement hardens. You may be able to go home the same day, but your
healthcare provider might want you to stay overnight.
Talk with your healthcare provider about what to expect during your kyphoplasty.
What happens after kyphoplasty?
You may be able to start walking about an hour after the procedure. It’s normal to
feel some soreness where the needle was put into your back. This might last a few
days. You may quickly notice that you have less pain in your back than you did before
the surgery. Talk with your healthcare provider about whether you should avoid any
activities after the procedure.
You may experience pain relief almost immediately after the procedure, but for some
people it takes up to 72 hours. Your healthcare provider may provide you with pain
relievers to help ease the discomfort.
If the fracture was caused by osteoporosis, your healthcare provider may suggest that
you take certain vitamins, minerals, or medicines to help strengthen your bones and
help prevent more fractures in your spine.
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions about what you should do
after your kyphoplasty. Be sure you understand the instructions and how to use any
prescription medicines you’re given. Also know how to reach the healthcare provider
if you have any problems or questions. Ask about scheduling a follow-up appointment.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure, make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how you will get the results
Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
How much you will have to pay for the test or procedure