Study Reviews Results of Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are two treatment methods for vertebral spine fractures. During a vertebroplasty procedure, cement is injected into the fractured bone. Once the cement hardens, the bone is held steady and can start to heal. With kyphoplasty, a deflated balloon is inserted inside the body of the bone. It is inflated and cement is injected inside the balloon. Kyphoplasty helps restore the normal heighth of the bone.

How do these two approaches compare? Is one better than the other? Do patients get long-term relief from pain? Are they more or less likely to fracture again? Many questions remain about these two approaches to vertebral compression fractures.

The authors of this study reviewed all of the studies done so far on the use of both treatment methods. They compare the results based on pain relief, mobility, and vertebral body height. They also made note of any new fractures or other complications that developed.

They found that many patients did get pain relief with either type of procedure. Physical function improved in less than half the patients. Different scales were used from study to study so this measure wasn't easily compared from one study to the next. Correcting the vertebral height was about the same between vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.

Problems such as cement leakage or vertebral fracture were the most common complications after either procedure. Cement leakage was much higher for vertebroplasty. Most of the studies lacked enough details to really analyze the results based on complications.

The authors propose a new batch of questions to be studied:
  • Why do patients get pain relief from these procedures?
  • Can cement leaks be avoided? How?
  • Can new fractures be prevented? Or would they occur anyway because of the osteoporosis?

    More studies are needed. A standardized method of reporting would help in finding answers to these questions. The authors outline a series of nine ways to improve the research and recording results. Using this type of research approach will help answer the basic question: Are vertebroplasty and kyphoplasy safe and effective?
    Paul A. Hulme, MSc, et al. Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty: A Systematic Review of 69 Clinical Studies. In Spine. August 1, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 17. Pp. 1983-2001.