Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are the two most common types of vertebral augmentation procedures. These operations serve to treat vertebral compression fractures, therefore relieving back pain and preventing further collapse. Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are minimally invasive procedures that involve stabilizing the spinal column by inserting cement into the fractured vertebra. However, there are a few differences that distinguish the two operations. Learn more about these procedures and how to best implement them with this comparison between vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.

What Is Vertebroplasty?

During a vertebroplasty procedure, the patient is usually awake but sedated. The doctor will use a fluoroscope to guide their needle to the fractured vertebra. Then, they will insert the bone cement directly into the fracture. The cement quickly hardens, binding the fraction fragments into place and providing stability to the vertebrae. A vertebroplasty provides immediate stability to the area without attempting to manipulate the vertebra into place. This means that it is somewhat less effective when dealing with fractures that have caused severe collapse in the vertebra or spinal deformities. Fortunately, this is where kyphoplasty procedures come in.

What Is Kyphoplasty?

Like vertebroplasty procedures, kyphoplasty uses fluoroscopy tables and X-ray technology to guide the doctor’s tools to the fractured vertebra. An important comparison between vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, however, is that kyphoplasty procedures first use a balloon catheter to create a cavity in the bone. This space helps fix a collapse in the vertebra, correct wedging from the fracture, and restore normal spinal alignment. Once the balloon inflates to create the cavity, the doctor removes it and fills the space with bone cement. This cement is thicker than the one used in vertebroplasty procedures. However, it still hardens in place to create relief and stability in the spinal column.

The Use of Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty

Both vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty work to treat vertebral compression fractures. These fractures often occur as a result of osteoporosis, but you might also experience vertebral compression as a result of a malignant tumor or complications in healing after a fracture. Doctors usually perform these procedures after measures such as bed rest, back braces, or pain medications have proven ineffective. Both procedures have a high success rate in significantly relieving back pain in patients who suffer from fractured vertebrae.