Vertebral Augmentation

Vertebral augmentation, in the form of kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty, is performed to treat vertebral compression fractures of the spine.

Have a Question?

Is Vertebral Augmentation Right For You?

What is a Vertebral Augmentation?

You may be recommended for this procedure if you are suffering from pain caused by a vertebral compression fracture. This means that a vertebra (part of your spine) has collapsed, possibly due to a fall or the weakening of the vertebra. The cement functions as a sort of internal cast, providing pain relief and stabilizing the affected area of the spine.

There are two types of vertebral augmentation: 

  • Percutaneous vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure in which cement designed for use in bones is injected into the vertebral column (spine).
  • Kyphoplasty is when balloons are inserted into the compressed vertebra under CT or fluoroscopic guidance. If you have suffered a fracture due to trauma or have significant height loss caused by a fracture, your doctor may recommend that you undergo kyphoplasty.

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are usually out-patient procedures. However, they are occasionally performed under general anaesthetic, and in these cases patients are kept in hospital overnight.

You will lie on your stomach and will be given a local anaesthetic. The interventional radiologist will insert a needle into the spine using X-rays (sometimes combined with CT) to guide the needle, and will inject bone cement to the targeted area to make sure the bone does not collapse again.

During the kyphoplasty procedure, two balloons are inserted and inflated before the injection of the bone cement, while, in the other vertebral augmentation procedures mentioned above, an implant is expanded before being inserted into the vertebral area.

If you are given a local anaesthetic, you will be kept in hospital for two hours after surgery to be monitored before being discharged.

Who Is This Procedure For?

See if Vertebral Augmentation is Right for Your Pain

Vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) are the most common complication of osteoporosis, affecting more than 700,000 Americans annually. Fracture risk increases with age, with four in 10 white women older than 50 years experiencing a hip, spine, or vertebral fracture in their lifetime. VCFs can lead to chronic pain, disfigurement, height loss, impaired activities of daily living, increased risk of pressure sores, pneumonia, and psychological distress. Patients with an acute VCF may report abrupt onset of back pain with position changes, coughing, sneezing, or lifting.

  • In people with severe osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones), a VCF may be caused by simple daily activities, such as stepping out of the shower, sneezing forcefully or lifting a light object. In people with moderate osteoporosis, it usually takes increased force or trauma, such as falling down or attempting to lift a heavy object to cause a VCF. VCFs are the most common fracture in patients with osteoporosis, affecting about 750,000 people annually. VCFs affect an estimated 25% of all postmenopausal women in the U.S. The occurrence of this condition steadily increases as people age, with an estimated 40% of women age 80 and older affected. Although far more common in women, VCFs are also a major health concern for older men.
  • People who have had one osteoporotic VCF are at five times the risk of sustaining a second VCF. Occasionally, a VCF can be present with either minor symptoms or no symptoms, but the risk still exists for additional VCFs to occur.
  • People with healthy spines most commonly suffer a VCF through severe trauma, such as a car accident, sports injury or a hard fall.

Metastatic tumors should be considered as the cause in patients younger than 55 with no history of trauma or only minimal trauma. The bones of the spine are a common place for many types of cancers to spread. The cancer may cause destruction of part of the vertebra, weakening the bone until it collapses.


The main clinical symptoms of Vertebral Compression Fractures may include any of the following, alone or in combination:

  • Sudden onset of back pain
  • An increase of pain intensity while standing or walking
  • A decrease in pain intensity while lying on the back
  • Limited spinal mobility
  • Eventual height loss
  • Eventual deformity and disability
Why Get Treatment?
  • Approximately one hour after the procedure, you should be able to walk. The physician is often able to advise you as to whether the procedure was a technical success at that point.
  • Your doctor may recommend a follow-up visit.
  • This visit may include a physical check-up, imaging exam(s), and blood tests. During your follow-up visit, tell your doctor if you have noticed any side effects or changes.

Is Vertebral Augmentation
Right For You?

If you are suffering from an abrupt onset of back pain with position changes, coughing, sneezing, or lifting following a fall or injury, vertebral augmentation might be right for you
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