Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

I saw a newspaper article about a new way to repair broken bones in the spine. The doctors use cement squirted into the main part of the bone. They used two different words to name the operation: vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. What's the difference?

Answer:

Osteoporosis leaves bones weak and at risk for unexpected fractures. The spine is a common site for these compression fractures. Just the weight of the bones and gravity are enough to cause the bone to burst or collapse on itself.

The treatment you read about uses a special instrument to slip into the main part of the bone without making a cut or incision. With vertebroplasty cement is injected right into the center of the bone. Kyphoplasty is slightly different.

First a special balloon is inserted into the bone. Then it's inflated to form a cavity and lift the bone off itself. Then the cavity is filled with a special cement called PMMA. The doctor decides which way to do the operation based on the type of fracture and the condition of the bone.

Bronek M. Boszczyk, MD, et al. Microsurgical Interlaminary Vertebro- and Kyphoplasty for Severe Osteoporotic Fractures. In Journal of Neursurgery: Spine. January 2004. Vol. 100. Pp. 32-37.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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