Kyphoplasty is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure that repairs a vertebral compression fracture caused by a weakening bone in the spine. It helps restore the spine's natural shape. Some patients experience rapid pain relief after the procedure.

What is it?

Kyphoplasty is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure that repairs a vertebral compression fracture caused by a weakening bone in the spine. It helps restore the spine's natural shape. Some patient's experience rapid pain relief after the procedure.


Before the procedure, you are anesthetized. The physician guides a needle through the skin of your back and into your fractured vertebra. A special X-ray device called a "fluoroscope" helps the physician position the needle. 

Balloon inserted

A balloon device is placed through the needle and into the vertebral body. The physician carefully inflates the balloon to expand the fractured bone. When the balloon is deflated, it leaves a cavity in the middle of the vertebral body. The balloon is removed. For some patients, more than one needle and balloon may be used. 

Fracture stabilized

The physician injects bone cement through the needle. This cement fills the cavity. It hardens inside the vertebral body, stabilizing the fracture. 

End of procedure and aftercare

When the procedure is complete, the needle is removed. The opening in your skin is closed. Your doctor will give you instructions to aid your recovery. 


Osteoporosis, which is weakened vertebrae, is the culprit that often necessitates a kyphoplasty. Most compression fractures develop because of osteoporosis. This is a loss of bone density. It causes your bones to become weak and brittle. If you have osteoporosis, routine daily activities such as bending down or coughing can gradually damage your vertebrae. Compression fractures are also caused by traumatic injury. And they can be caused by cancer of the spine. 


Most of the time the injury is caused by a fall, but it can also result from daily activities and common movements. Some symptoms you should watch out for would be the onset of sudden pain in the back, limited range of motion, or noticeable relief when lying down in comparison to standing up/walking.

compression fracture - Signs and symptoms

Compression fractures can be painful. The pain from sudden fractures can be severe and debilitating. Fractures that develop gradually may only cause mild pain. Compression fractures can change your height. You can lose several inches of height over time. These fractures can also cause your spine to bend forward. You may develop a stooped posture and a rounded back. Compression fractures can put pressure on the spinal nerves that travel to the legs. This makes walking difficult. The pressure can also interfere with the function of the bowels and bladder. 


During kyphoplasty surgery, a small incision is made in the back through which Dr. Carnel places a narrow tube. Using fluoroscopy to guide it to the correct position, the tube creates a path through the back into the fractured area through the pedicle of the involved vertebrae. Next, using X-ray images, Dr. Carnel inserts a balloon through the tube and into the vertebrae, then gently inflates it. As the balloon inflates, it elevates the fracture, returning the pieces to a more normal position. It also compacts the soft inner bone to create a cavity inside the vertebrae. Finally, the balloon is removed and Dr. Carnel uses specially designed instruments under low pressure to fill the cavity with a cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA). After being injected, the pasty material hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone.

What does Dr. Carnel recommend his patients do after being treated? 

Dr. Carnel recommends that patients avoid exercise and engage only in low impact daily activities until the three-week follow up appointment. Dr. Carnel likes to follow the procedure from start to finish in great detail to ensure that there is complete healing.”

Is re-injury likely after a kyphopasty procedure? if so, how can patients avoid being hurt again?

Patients that are diagnosed with osteoporosis are at higher risk for re-injury. To avoid being injured again, patients should see their primary care physician to treat their osteoporosis.

The Spine Center at Andrews Sports Medicine provides the most-advanced, comprehensive treatment solutions for injuries and disorders of the spine. To schedule an appointment, call (205) 939-3699.

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