Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment that can alleviate the pain caused by compression fractures of the spine. This surgery can be used to return your vertebrae to a more normal shape.

In the past, patients with painful compression fractures had the options of taking pain medications, wearing a brace, getting bed rest, or undergoing surgery, which is not always effective. Kyphoplasty is a newer procedure that has proven safe and effective, providing approximately 85-90% of patients with rapid pain relief.

About the Procedure

balloon-kyphoplasty illustration

Balloon Kyphoplasty

With kyphoplasty, an interventional radiologist stabilizes a collapsed vertebra with injections of medical-grade bone cement into the spine. The cement-strengthened vertebra reduces pain and helps prevent future fractures in the surrounding vertebrae. It can also help straighten the “hunchback” sometimes caused by compression fractures.

With this procedure, a hole is drilled into the compressed vertebra and a balloon is inserted through the hole. The balloon is then inflated to re-expand the vertebra and give it more height. The balloon is removed and the cavity it created is promptly injected with bone cement. As the cement quickly hardens, it emits heat which deadens the inflamed nerves. Each affected vertebra may require more than one injection to distribute the cement evenly.

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Reasons for Having Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is used as an alternative to surgery to treat compression fractures when the pain caused by them cannot be relieved by other measures. It may also be used to straighten the “hunchback” sometimes caused by compression fractures.

Compression fractures are typically the result of osteoporosis, but can also be caused by other conditions such as metastatic cancer.


Risks Involved in Kyphoplasty

The chance of a complication from kyphoplasty is very low (less than 2%). Potential risks include infection, worsening of pain, and neurological problems such as weakness or pain in the legs. There is also a slight possibility that the cement will leak into soft tissue or veins surrounding the vertebra, which can result in nerve pain and require additional treatment. It is also possible that you may have a reaction to the contrast agent used during the procedure. There is the risk of radiation exposure; however, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects. Any operation that involves the spine carries the risk of damaging the spinal nerves, which can cause numbness or paralysis. This is very rare.


Conditions to Let Your Interventional Radiologist Know About

In advance of your exam, let the RIA Endovascular staff know if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

    • Previous reaction to iodine
    • Previous reaction to anesthesia
    • Currently taking blood thinning medication
    • Coagulation disorder
    • Cardiopulmonary disease


Insurance Coverage for This Procedure

Kyphoplasty is usually covered by insurance. Check with your insurance carrier to be sure.


Procedure Locations

Consultations for kyphoplasty are done at RIA Endovascular.

The procedure is performed at partner hospitals in the Denver, Colorado area:


Scheduling Your Procedure

To schedule a consultation to discuss kyphoplasty, call 720.493.3406.


Preparation Guidelines

Following are the general preparation guidelines for kyphoplasty. You may receive additional or differing guidelines based on your specific situation. Please contact us at 720.493.3406 if you have any questions.

    • Stop taking blood-thinning medications 3-5 days before the procedure. Contact your doctor to ensure it’s safe.
    • Do not eat or drink anything but clear liquids for 8 hours before the procedure; do not drink anything for 4 hours before the procedure.
    • Prepare for an overnight stay in the hospital.
    • Arrange for someone to drive you home from the procedure.


What to Expect During Kyphoplasty

Prior to the date of the procedure, you will have to receive an MRI or a CT scan and a bone scan. You will be asked to complete paper work and consent forms so your interventional radiologist will know your medical history.

When you come in for the procedure, you will be asked to change into a gown. After answering any questions you have, a technologist will start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. You will be given conscious sedation through the IV to help you relax. Then you will be positioned on your stomach so the radiologist can easily access your spine. The site of the procedure will be cleansed and a local anesthetic will be administered.

A fluoroscope will be moved into position above the affected vertebra. A small incision (less than one centimeter) will be made over the compressed vertebra.

The interventional radiologist will place a small tube or hollow needle through the incision and guide it to the correct position. The doctor will drill a hole in the vertebra and insert and inflate the balloon.  A special medical-grade bone cement will be injected into the vertebra through a needle. After the needle and-or tube are removed, the incision will be closed with tape. The local anesthetic should prevent you from feeling anything, but be sure to tell your doctor if you experience any pain or discomfort during the procedure.

The procedure takes 45-60 minutes for each compressed vertebra that is treated. Once all the vertebrae have been repaired, you will remain on the table for 15-20 minutes to allow the ‘cement’ adequate time to harden. You will then be taken to a recovery area where you will be carefully monitored. Patients usually go home the same day.


Recovering from Your Procedure

Pain medication is most often not needed following the procedure. Pain, when persistent, may be alleviated with non-prescription acetaminophen. Your incisions should stay covered and dry for 24 hours. There are no restrictions on your activity after either procedure.

Some people experience immediate relief from the pain caused by their compression fractures, while others may take a couple days to feel a reduction in pain. There is a risk of fracture to the adjacent vertebral bodies over time. If new symptoms develop, you should contact your doctor at  RIA Endovascular.

On your followup visit, your doctor may recommend medicine to help prevent future fractures.


Comprehensive Fracture Care

Post procedure, we will discuss using a bone-building agent to treat your underlying condidtion.  We also offer  educational classes on osteoporosis to support patients with information about how they can best manage their condition.


Consults. Referrals. Scheduling. Appointments.

Call 720.493.3406