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What is Kyphoplasty?


Updated December 14, 2006

Question: What is Kyphoplasty?
With aging, bone mass decreases, and the risk for osteoporosis increases. The Journal of Imaging Technology Management reports that 40% of women over the age of 50 are at risk for fracture at some time in their life. 1 Vertebral fractures are common in persons with osteoporosis, and can be life threatening. Fortunately, surgical techniques such as kyphoplasty exist to address the concerns in cases of vertebral fracture.
Answer: Kyphoplasty is a type of minimally invasive back surgery (1998) used in cases of vertebral fracture. The purpose of a kyphoplasty is to:
  • stop the pain associated with the fracture
  • stabilize the vertebra
  • restore vertebral body height
Kyphoplasty is successful with patients who suffer vertebral fracture due to diminished bone strength. This usually means people with osteoporosis, or age related bone loss. Sometimes, however, younger people with conditions affecting bone strength may benefit from kyphoplasty. Steriods also weaken the bones of young people who take them and predispose them to compression fractures.

Most of the time, patients who undergo Kyphoplasty experience pain relief within 2 weeks after the surgery. Function is generally improved, as well. Often, vertebral height is increased, but this result is not as dependable as the pain relief and function improvement measures.

Worldwide, nearly 200,000 kyphoplasties have been performed since the surgery got its start in 1998. Over 7,000 physicians are skilled in this procedure.

1 Shinkman, Ron. Osteoporisis Diagnosis: Adding Fracture Risk Assessment. The Journal of Imaging Technology Management. April 2005. Retrieved from: http://www.imagingeconomics.com/library/200504-05.asp January 26, 2006
2. Kyphoplasty—a new treatment for osteoporotic fractures. Spine-Health Retrieved from: http://www.spine-health.com/research/kyph/kyph01.html January 26, 2006.
3. Kyphoplasty spine surgery animation. Spine-Health Retrieved from: http://www.spine-health.com/dir/kyph.html January 26, 2006.

Date Created: January 26, 2006

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