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What is kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis, trauma, or chemotherapy. The fracture is repaired with the injection of a specially formulated cement and a small balloon-type device used to restore spinal height. Patients who undergo the outpatient surgery, also called balloon vertebroplasty, typically experience less pain, a lower risk of surgery infection, and a faster recovery with better mobility.

What You Can Expect at UTHealth Neurosciences

The UTHealth Neurosciences Spine Center brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists who work together to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. Your team will share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes.

We first investigate nonsurgical treatment options, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Anatomy of the neck and spine

The spine is divided into the following regions:

  • The cervical region (vertebrae C1-C7) encompasses the first seven vertebrae under the skull. Their main function is to support the weight of the head, which averages 10 pounds. The cervical vertebrae are more mobile than other areas, with the atlas and axis vertebra facilitating a wide range of motion in the neck. Openings in these vertebrae allow arteries to carry blood to the brain and permit the spinal cord to pass through. They are the thinnest and most delicate vertebrae.
  • The thoracic region (vertebrae T1-T12) is composed of 12 small bones in the upper chest. Thoracic vertebrae are the only ones that support the ribs. Muscle tension from poor posture, arthritis, and osteoporosis are common sources of pain in this region.
  • The lumbar region (vertebrae L1-L5) features vertebrae that are much larger to absorb the stress of lifting and carrying heavy objects. Injuries to the lumbar region can result in some loss of function in the hips, legs, and bladder control.
  • The sacral region (vertebrae S1-S5) includes a large bone at the bottom of the spine. The sacrum is triangular-shaped and consists of five fused bones that protect the pelvic organs.

Reasons for kyphoplasty

A doctor may recommend kyphoplasty to relieve pain and restore motion after cancer, injury, or osteoporosis damages one or more vertebrae. X-rays or an MRI will be used to confirm the fracture. Patients should consider the surgery shortly after the fracture occurs, as results tend to be much better when surgery is performed soon after the fracture.


What to expect during surgery and recovery

While the patient is under general anesthesia during the surgery, the spine surgeon makes an incision and inserts a narrow tube into the fracture using imaging for guidance. A tiny balloon, inserted through the tube, is then inflated to move the fractured vertebra (or vertebrae) back into position, and the cavity created is filled with a specially formulated cement. The procedure stabilizes the bone and restores the vertebra to its normal height.

Patients typically leave the hospital the same day and can resume normal activities without significant restrictions. Your spine surgeon will give you specific information related to your particular condition and lifestyle goals, as well as a detailed description of the surgery and instructions on how to make the best recovery.

Spine Disease and Back Pain

Contact Us

At UTHealth Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8100, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.