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Kyphoplasty vs. Vertebroplasty

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
It's hard to tell the difference between a kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty. This lesson clearly explains what these procedures are and what their key differences are as well.

Bone Cement

When we think of cement, we tend to think of what? Roads, sidewalks, buildings, and the like, right? Well, 'cement' is used in medicine as well. Of course, it's by no means like the cement you walk on in the street. Surgical (bone) cement is used for a wide variety of procedures. These procedures include kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty. In this lesson, you're going to learn a bit about them both.

What Is Vertebroplasty?

Let's start off with vertebroplasty. 'Vertebro-' refers to the vertebrae, the plural for vertebra. The vertebrae are the bones that make up your backbone. Your spinal cord runs through them and is thus protected by these bones. Your vertebrae are what give your back its posture.

The suffix '-plasty' denotes the plastic repair of something. Now, you're probably already confused as to what in the world plastic has to do with cement. The word plastic, as per plastic repair, implies that something is molded, reshaped, or reconstructed. That being said, bone cement is composed of plastic as well.

A vertebroplasty seeks to treat spinal (vertebral) compression fractures. In other words, a vertebra has collapsed onto itself as a result of something. That something could be trauma, cancer, or other causes.

During this procedure, bone cement is injected directly into the fractured vertebra in order to alleviate a person's pain and in order to stabilize the vertebra itself. 'Stabilize' means that a vertebroplasty seeks to prevent the fractured vertebra from collapsing even further as this procedure minimally (if at all) restores vertebral height.

If a vertebra collapses even further, it will lose more height and this can create more pain and kyphosis. Kyphosis is a term for a hunchback appearance to a person's posture.

What Is Kyphoplasty?

On that note, a kyphoplasty is a variation of vertebroplasty. 'Kypho-' is a prefix that implies that the backbone has a hump to its shape, a condition you already know as kyphosis.

A kyphoplasty is much like a vertebroplasty but with one main additional step. During a kyphoplasty, an inflatable balloon is used to create a space within the fractured vertebra. As the balloon inflates, it restores the height of the vertebra back to normal or near normal. The cavity created by the inflation of the balloon also creates a space for the injection of stabilizing bone cement. This allows for the restoration of a vertebra's height and thus the alleviation of kyphosis and pain.

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