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Kyphoplasty or Vertebral Augmentation

What is Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty, also called vertebral augmentation, is a procedure designed to relieve back pain caused by compression fractures that have not healed properly in the mid or low back region of the spine. These types of fractures are most often seen in the elderly population and are usually the result of severe weakening of the bone from osteoporosis. The underlying osteoporosis often results in delayed healing or lack of healing of the fracture. Osteoporosis can also be seen in younger individuals, as a result of long-term use of steroids used to treat diseases such as asthma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Compression fractures may also occur in vertebra weakened by cancer.

A kyphoplasty procedure involves the injection of special bone cement into a damaged vertebra that has been expanded using a balloon or other device to repair the normal height of the vertebrae. The cement strengthens and stabilizes the vertebra that has been damaged.


Learn more about this exam:

  • We will call you prior to your appointment to discuss specific preparation instructions; medications you are taking, potential risks and past imaging exams.
  • You will meet with the radiologist prior to the day of the procedure for a consultation. The procedure will be discussed in detail at this time. As with any medical procedure, you are encouraged to ask questions.
  • Consult with your provider before you stop taking any medications.
  • If you have films, reports or CD-ROMs of any MRI, CT or X-rays you have already had, please bring them to the appointment.
  • The use of sedation during your procedure is at the radiologist's discretion. If prescribed, detailed instructions will be given to you.
  • If sedated, you will need someone to drive you home and stay with you post-procedure due to the effects of the medications.
  • At your appointment, women should always inform their provider or X-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant or if they are breast feeding.
  • A kyphoplasty is an advanced injection procedure. Overall you should plan on approximately two and a half hours of your time for this procedure from check-in until you leave the clinic.
  • After you are admitted you may begin an assessment and, if necessary, laboratory tests to ensure proper blood clotting.
  • Kyphoplasty is generally performed using a local anesthetic (numbing medication) in conjunction with heavy sedation. Our specialized staff will monitor you throughout the procedure.
  • You will lie on your stomach on a cushioned table. The radiologist usually numbs a small area of skin using a local anesthetic.
  • Using X-ray guidance, our specialized radiologist will insert a thin needle and inject contrast solution. The contrast solution is designed to highlight your anatomy to make sure the vertebrae thought to be causing your pain is precisely targeted.
  • The radiologist will insert a specialized needle through the skin into the damaged vertebrae and inflate a balloon, moving the collapsed vertebrae to try and restore the bone to its original shape.  
  • Once the desired result is achieved, the balloons are deflated and the cavities that have been created within the bone are then filled with bone cement, which has the consistency of toothpaste.
  • The material will begin to harden over 10-20 minutes which may stabilize the fractured vertebra.
  • It is possible to treat more than one fractured vertebra at a time, if necessary.
  • Throughout the procedure, a radiologist and nurse will monitor your condition and comfort level closely.
  • You will be asked to stay at our center for a period of time after the procedure, depending on the number of fractures that are treated.
  • We will provide you with activity and physician rehabilitation guidelines.
  • Most patients experience marked pain relief soon after the procedure.

Although complications are rare, we will review possible side effects and risks with you prior to your exam so you can ask questions and decide if this exam is right for you.


NOTE: This procedure is not performed in all of our centers. Please contact the location or region nearest you for more information or to schedule an appointment. We are happy to help answer any questions you may have!