Vertebroplasty/Kyphoplasty: Treating Spinal Fractures Caused by Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become thin and fragile. It is called a "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a simple strain, twist of the body, bump or fall causes a bone fracture. Fractures may occur in the hip, wrist, ribs or elsewhere, but one of the more common sites is in the vertebrae, the bones that make up the spinal column.
Forty-four million Americans have thinning bones and are at increased risk for the disease. Of these 44 million, 10 million suffer from osteoporosis. Eighty percent of those who are at risk or affected by the disease are women. Osteoporosis causes more than 1.5 million fractures a year, of which 700,000 are spinal (vertebral) fractures.
Factors that increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis include:
- Being female
- Being thin or having a small frame
- Advanced age
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Being postmenopausal
- Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
- Anorexia or bulimia
- A diet low in calcium
- Long-term use of medication such as corticosteroids or anticonvulsants
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive use of alcohol
In the procedure, a needle is inserted through the skin and into the crushed vertebra. Special bone cement used for medical purposes (called polymethylmethacrylate) is injected into the bone to stabilize it. Often, more than one crushed vertebra can be treated in a single procedure. Open surgery is not required because the interventional radiologist is able to guide the needle to the spot using special X-ray equipment.