Your Health

Surgical Procedures for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is usually treated with medicines and certain lifestyle modifications. Although reconstructive surgery does not correct bone loss, it may be advised when an osteoporotic bone has fractured and requires repair.

Fracture Repair/Reduction

This procedure is done to return a broken bone to its proper alignment. There are two types:

  • Open reduction—This method is used if the bone is fragmented or difficult to repair, requiring screws, pins, rods, or a plate to hold it in place. The doctor makes a cut in the skin covering the break to expose the bone fragments. The bone fragments are moved into their normal position, and screws, pins, rods, or plates may be used to hold the realigned bones in place. Extremely severe fractures may require placement of a natural or artificial bone graft.
  • Closed reduction—The doctor manipulates the bone fragments into their normal position and applies a cast or splint to hold them in place. There is no incision

After the procedure, the doctor can immobilize the bone using a cast, splint, or brace, and may order another x-ray to ensure the bone is in the correct position.

Most bones require about six weeks to heal, but some bones take longer. Working with your healthcare provider and physical therapist to develop a specific activity and rehabilitation program can speed your recovery and protect you from future fractures.

Vertebroplasty and Balloon Kyphoplasty

Osteoporosis puts you at a greater risk of having a vertebral compression fracture . This type of fracture occurs when there is a break in the the bones of the back (vertebrae). The area that is affected is the front part of the vertebrae. This fracture can cause intense pain and disability. Procedures used to treat vertebral compression fracture include:

  • Vertebroplasty —An acrylic cement is injected into a fractured and collapsed vertebrae. The cement strengthens the bone and decreases pain from the fracture.
  • Balloon kyphoplasty—A tiny drill is used to create an opening in the bone. A special balloon is passed through. The balloon is inflated to open the space and correct the injured area. After the balloon is removed, acrylic cement is injected into the cavity. This will help to maintain the correction.

Revision Information

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aaos.org/ .

  • Carson-DeWitt R. Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated August 12, 2010. Accessed August 27, 2010.

  • Current Surgical Diagnosis and Treatment. 12th ed. McGraw-Hill Medical; 2005.

  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/ .

  • Vertebral compression fracture. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated August 12, 2010. Accessed August 27, 2010.