FAQ’s on Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty in Philadelphia

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are two surgical procedures used to treat vertebral compression fractures (VCFs). These fractures occur in people with osteoporosis, bone cancer, and bone diseases.

How common is osteoporosis and VCF?

Osteoporosis affects 28 million people in the United States. This condition causes the bones to become brittle and weak. Once the vertebra weakens, it can collapse (fracture), and this causes the spine to develop a hump (kyphosis). VCF affects around 25% of all postmenopausal women in America, with the prevalence increasing with age. Around 40% of women over the age of 80 years have one or more VCFs.

Who needs kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty?

These two procedures are used to strengthen and stabilize a collapsed vertebra. The success of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty is greater when these procedures are done soon after the VCF occurs.

What are the benefits of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

These procedures are successful for pain relief and improve spinal mobility. In addition, these procedures prevent the development of kyphosis.

What do I prepare for the kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty procedure?

The doctor will go over the pros and cons of the procedure with you before having you sign an informed consent form. You should not eat or drink after midnight, and if the procedure is being done outpatient, you must arrange to have someone drive you home. If you are on blood-thinning medications, notify the doctor of this, as these must be held for 3-7 days before the surgery. Once you arrive at the medical facility, you change into a gown, and a nurse places an IV catheter in your arm.

How is vertebroplasty performed?

With vertebroplasty, the doctor first numbs the skin over the back and makes a tiny incision. A special needle is inserted into the collapsed vertebra. Orthopedic cement that contains an antibiotic is injected into the vertebra. Once the cement hardens, the bone is stabilized. The doctor closes the incision with sutures, and places a bandage on the area.

How is kyphoplasty performed?

After the skin is cleansed with an antiseptic solution, the doctor will numb the back and make a tiny incision over the fracture. A balloon-tipped needle is inserted into the vertebra, and the balloon is inflated to restore bone height. Cement is injected, the needle is removed, and the incision is closed with sutures.

What can I expect after the vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty procedure?

You will be moved to a recovery area so a nurse can monitor you for 20-30 minutes. Antibiotics and pain medications are given through the IV, and your vital signs are monitored. Whether or not an overnight stay at the hospital is necessary will depend on your doctor’s recommendations.

What are the risks associated with vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

As with any minimally invasive surgery, there are some complications to consider with either of these procedures. While rare, allergic reaction to medications, bone cement, antibiotics, and medical supplies can occur. In addition, there is a slight risk of blood clot formation, infection, bleeding, and nerve damage.

What is the success rate of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty?

The efficacy rate of these procedures is reported at 90%, according to clinical studies. Both kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty have low morbidity rates. However, there is a slight chance of recurrence of the fracture following the procedure.


Belkoff SM, Maroney M, Fenton DC, & Mathis JM (1999). An in vitro biomechanical evaluation of bone cements used in percutaneous vertebroplasty. Bone, 29.

Old, J.L, & Calvert, M. (2004). Vertebral compression fractures in the elderly. American Family Physician, 69(1), 111-116.

Wardlaw D, Cummings SR, Van Meirhaeghe J, et al. (2009). Efficacy and safety of balloon kyphoplasty compared with non-surgical care for vertebral compression fracture (FREE): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 373(9668):1016-24.