In persons with osteoporosis, the bones become weaker and can break or fracture with minor or even no trauma. One common area where fractures occur is the spine and a common fracture that occurs is a compression fracture. In a spine compression fracture, a bone in the spine (vertebra) fractures and becomes flattened.
Sometimes the fracture does not heal or takes too long to heal causing prolonged pain, disability and deformity. When this happens, the patient, who is usually an elderly person, is unable to get out of bed and be mobile due to pain. This can lead to many complications such pressure sores, lung and urinary tract infections.
Vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty is the surgery performed to relieve the patient’s pain from the spine fracture. In the surgery, bone cement is injected into the fractured vertebra through 2 small puncture wounds. This stabilises the fracture and reduces pain significantly, allowing the patient a quick return to function. The difference between vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty is that in the latter, a balloon is used to “jack” the fractured parts of the vertebra apart before injecting the cement thus restoring, at least partially if not completely, the original shape of the vertebra.