What is Balloon Kyphoplasty?

Balloon kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive treatment that can repair spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis, cancer, or benign lesions. During the procedure, orthopedic balloons are used to gently elevate the fractured vertebra in an attempt to return it to the correct position. Bone cement is then injected to stabilize the fracture. Balloon kyphoplasty takes up to one hour per fracture level treated. It can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on your overall state of health as determined by your physician.

How is Balloon Kyphoplasty Performed?

Before Your Procedure
Before the procedure, you will have a medical exam and undergo diagnostic studies, such as having x-rays taken, to determine the precise location of the fracture. You and your doctor will decide whether you should have local or general anesthesia.

During Your Procedure

  • Balloon Kyphoplasty Placement

    Step 1: Balloon Placement

    First, a narrow pathway is made into the fractured bone with a hollow instrument. A small orthopedic balloon is guided through the instrument into the vertebral body. Typically, two balloons are used, one on each side of the vertebral body, to better support the bone as it moves back into position and increase the likelihood of deformity correction. The incision site is approximately 1 cm (1/3 inch) in length.

  • Balloon Kyphoplasty Inflation

    Step 2: Balloon Inflation

    Next, the balloons are carefully inflated to gently elevate the fractured vertebra in an attempt to return it to the correct position.

  • Balloon Kyphoplasty Cavity Creation

    Step 3: Cavity Creation

    Inflation of the balloons creates a cavity (space) within the vertebral body and compacts the soft, inner bone against the outer wall. The cavity also functions as a repository for the bone cement. Once the vertebral body is in the correct position, the balloons are deflated and removed.

  • Cavity Fill

    Step 4: Cavity Fill

    The cavity is filled with thick bone cement to stabilize the fracture. The bone cement dries quickly and forms an internal cast that holds the vertebral body in place.

After Your Procedure
Patients often experience relief from spinal fracture pain one week after the procedure. Your doctor will most likely schedule a follow-up visit and explain limitations, if any, on physical activity. Most patients return to their usual activity within a few days.

How Does Balloon Kyphoplasty Compare to Non-surgical Treatment?

In a clinical study, the Medtronic KYPHON® Balloon Kyphoplasty was shown to be more effective than non-surgical care for the treatment of acute vertebral compression fractures.

Patients treated with balloon kyphoplasty had faster and greater improvement in back pain relief, back function and quality of life at one month after surgery. The benefits of balloon kyphoplasty were sustained on average through 12 months. The overall frequency of patients with adverse events did not differ between the balloon kyphoplasty and the non-surgical groups.1

What Are the Benefits Associated With Medtronic KYPHON Balloon Kyphoplasty?

Relieves Pain Fast2

A Medtronic-sponsored trial comparing balloon kyphoplasty to non-surgical treatment found that people with spinal fractures treated with balloon kyphoplasty experienced the following benefits versus those treated with non-surgical management:

  • 3 times greater pain reduction one week after the procedure. Pain reduction was maintained in the long term.2
  • 4 times greater quality of life one month after the procedure. Quality of life advantage was maintained after 2 years.2
  • 5 more days out of bed in the first month and 120 more days out of bed in the first 2 years after the procedure.2

Restores Height and Corrects Stooped Posture (Kyphosis)

Compression fractures often result in height loss and stooped posture (kyphosis) due to changes in the shape of the affected vertebrae (spinal deformity). In the trial mentioned above, Medtronic KYPHON Balloon Kyphoplasty was shown to correct the spinal deformity that leads to kyphosis by restoring and normalizing vertebral height and shape.2

What Are the Risks Associated With This Procedure?

The complications for Medtronic KYPHON Balloon Kyphoplasty have been demonstrated to be low. There are risks associated with the procedure, including serious complications, and though rare, some may be fatal. These include, but are not limited to heart attack, cardiac arrest (heart stops beating), stroke, and embolism (blood, fat or cement that migrates to the lungs, heart, or brain). Other complications include infection and leakage of bone cement into the muscle and tissue. Cement leakage into the blood vessels may result in damage to the blood vessels, lungs, heart, and/or brain. Cement leakage into the area surrounding the spinal cord may result in nerve injury that can, in rare instances, cause paralysis. A prescription is required. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, contraindications, benefits, and risks. Only you and your physician can determine whether this procedure is right for you.

Patient Stories

Hear what patients have to say about their experiences with KYPHON Balloon Kyphoplasty.

Marie's Story

"I went in and [the neurosurgeon] said 'boy, are you a candidate for the kypho procedure.' And within two days I had it done."

Sam's Story

"The next morning I woke up, and it's probably the best I'd felt in seven or eight months. Maybe even a year."

If you’d like to discuss balloon kyphoplasty with your primary care physician, prepare for your visit with the doctor discussion guide.

Other Treatment Options for Spinal Fractures

Another option to treat spinal fractures is vertebroplasty.


  1. Wardlaw D, Cummings SR, Van Meirhaeghe J, et al. Efficacy and safety of balloon kyphoplasty compared with non-surgical care for vertebral compression fracture (FREE): a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet. 2009; 373:1016-24.
  2. Tillman J, Shabe P, Rose M, Elson P, Wülfert E, Ashraf T. Fracture Reduction Evaluation Study 24-month final clinical study report, August 27, 2010.