Health Library Home>Medical Animations>Article

Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty


If you have a compression fracture of one or more bones in your spine,

your doctor may recommend either a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty procedure.

Your spine has five main sections, three of them are the cervical spine in your neck,

the thoracic spine in your chest,

and the lumbar spine in your lower back.

Each of these sections has separate bones, called vertebrae.

The weight-bearing part of each vertebra is called the vertebral body.

Your vertebral body has an outer shell of solid bone and an inner network of porous spongy bone.

If you have osteoporosis, the bone of the vertebral bodies can become thinner and more porous, making them very weak.

Bending, sneezing, lifting objects, or falling can put more pressure on your spine than your weakened vertebral bodies can support.

Compression fractures commonly occur in the transition zone from the stiffer thoracic spine to the more flexible lumbar spine.

The pressure can cause a compression fracture in which your vertebral body collapses.

To reduce your pain, your doctor may recommend non-surgical treatments first.

These treatments include: rest, pain medication, and a back brace.

If these treatments don’t work, your doctor may recommend either a vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty procedure.

Before either procedure, an intravenous line, or IV, will be started.

You may be given antibiotics through the IV to decrease your chance of infection.

You will be given local anesthesia to numb your back.

In addition, general anesthesia may be used to keep you unconscious and pain free during the procedure.

If you receive general anesthesia,

a breathing tube will be inserted through your mouth and down your throat to help you breathe during the procedure.

Your doctor will make two small puncture incisions on your back over your fractured vertebra.

A hollow tube, called a cannula, along with a pointed instrument inside it, called a trocar,

will be inserted through each incision into your fractured vertebral body.

Your doctor will use a real-time x-ray machine, called a fluoroscope, to guide placement of the cannula and trocar.

If you are having a vertebroplasty procedure,

your doctor will remove the trocar, and then inject bone cement through each cannula to harden and stabilize your fractured vertebral body.

If you are having a kyphoplasty procedure,

your doctor will first insert a balloon tamp through each cannula before injecting the cement.

The balloon on the tip of this device will be inflated to restore the height of your vertebral body.

After deflating and removing the balloon tamp, your doctor will fill the space created by the balloon with bone cement.

At the end of either procedure, your doctor will remove each cannula,

and cover the tiny skin punctures with a sterile bandage.

After either procedure, your breathing tube will be removed if general anesthesia was used.

You will be taken to the recovery area for monitoring.

Pain medication will be given as needed.

You may be released from the hospital the same day or within one day after either procedure.