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Kyphoplasty Reduction of Osteoporotic Vertebral Compression Fractures: Correction of Local Kyphosis Versus Overall Sagittal Alignment

Pradhan, Ben B., MD, MSE*; Bae, Hyun W., MD*; Kropf, Michael A., MD*; Patel, Vikas V., MD; Delamarter, Rick B., MD*

doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000200036.08679.1e
Clinical Case Series

Study Design. A retrospective study of patients who underwent 1–3-level kyphoplasty procedures at a single institute.

Objective. To examine and compare the effects of single and multilevel kyphoplasty procedures on local versus overall sagittal alignment of the spine.

Summary of Background Data. Cement augmentation has been a safe and effective method in the treatment of symptomatic vertebral compression fractures (VCFs). In addition to providing rapid pain relief, balloon tamp kyphoplasty has reduced acute fractures, allowed controlled cement placement under lower pressure, and resulted in improvement of deformity. The restoration of normal overall spinal sagittal alignment in the elderly patient with a VCF and kyphotic deformity has obvious benefits. Although significant correction of local kyphosis (fractured vertebra) has been reported in the literature, to our knowledge, there have been no reports on whether this leads to an improved overall sagittal alignment.

Methods. A total of 65 consecutive patients with symptomatic VCFs who underwent 1–3-level kyphoplasty procedures were included in the study. Preoperative and postoperative radiographs were analyzed to quantify local and overall spinal sagittal alignment correction. Preoperative and postoperative vertebral heights at the fractured levels were also measured and categorized into anterior, middle, or posterior vertebral heights.

Results. Measurements revealed that kyphoplasty reduced local kyphotic deformity at the fractured vertebra by an average of 7.3° (63% of preoperative kyphosis). This result did not translate to similar correction in overall sagittal alignment. In fact, angular correction decreased to 2.4° (20% of preoperative kyphosis at fractured level) when measured 1 level above and below. The angular correction further decreased to 1.5° and 1.0° (13% and 8% of preoperative kyphosis at fractured level), respectively, at spans of 2 and 3 levels above and below. Average height gain was highest in the middle of the vertebral body (39% increase) compared to the anterior or posterior edges (19% and 3% increases, respectively). With multilevelkyphoplasty procedures, higher angular gains were seen over more vertebrae compared to the 7.3° for a single-level kyphoplasty: 7.8° over 2 levels and 7.7° over 3 levels for 2 and 3-level kyphoplasty procedures, respectively. Kyphoplasty was able to achieve higher angular reduction in thoracic versus lumbar fractures (8.5 vs. 6.4°, P < 0.01). The angular correction was also better maintained over adjacent segments in the thoracic spine.

Conclusion. The majority of kyphosis correction by kyphoplasty is limited to the vertebral body treated. The majority of height gained after kyphoplasty occurs in the midbody. Higher correction over longer spans of the spine can be achieved with multilevel kyphoplasty procedures, in proportion to the number of levels addressed. Notwithstanding its well-published clinical efficacy, it is unrealistic to expect a 1 or 2-level kyphoplasty to improve significantly the overall sagittal alignment after VCFs.

Kyphoplasty has been an effective treatment of symptomatic, nonhealed vertebral compression fractures. Although significant reduction of local kyphosis has been reported, to our knowledge, there are no reports on whether this corrects global sagittal alignment. This study shows that the majority of kyphosis correction by kyphoplasty is limited to the vertebral body treated.

From *The Spine Institute at Saint John’s Health Center, Santa Monica, CA, and †The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO.

Acknowledgment date: October 22, 2004. First revision date: January 12, 2005. Second revision date: February 7, 2005. Acceptance date: February 15, 2005.

The device(s)/drug(s) is/are FDA-approved or approved by corresponding national agency for this indication.

No funds were received in support of this work. No benefits in any form have been or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this manuscript.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Ben B. Pradhan, MD, MSE, The Spine Institute at Saint John’s Health Center, Suite 400, 1301 20th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404; E-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.