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The treatment of painful osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures using transpedicular cement augmentation has grown significantly over the last two decades. The benefits of balloon kyphoplasty compared to conservative treatment remain controversial and are discussed in the literature. The complication rates of vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are considered to be low. The focus of this study was the analysis of acute and clinically relevant complications related to this procedure. In our department, all patients treated between February 2002 and February 2011 with percutaneous cement augmentation (372 patients, 522 augmented vertebral bodies) were prospectively recorded. Demographic data, comorbidities, fracture types, intraoperative data and all complications were documented. The pre- and postoperative pain-level and neurological status (Frankel-Score) were evaluated. All patients underwent a standardized surgical procedure. Two hundred and ninety-seven patients were treated solely by balloon kyphoplasty; 216 females (72.7%) and 81 males (27.3%). Average patient age was 76.21 years (±10.71, range 35-98 years). Average American Society Anestesiologists score was 3.02. According to the Orthopedic Trauma Association classification, there were 69 A 1.1 fractures, 177 A 1.2 fractures, 178 A 3.1.1 fractures and 3 A 3.1.3 fractures. Complications were divided into preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative events. There were 4 pre-operative complications: 3 patients experienced persistent pain after the procedure. In one case, the pedicles could not be visualized during the procedure and the surgery was terminated. One hundred and twenty-nine (40.06%) of the patients showed intraoperative cement leaking outside the vertebras, one severe hypotension and tachycardia as reaction to the inflation of the balloons, and there was one cardiac arrest during surgery. Postoperative subcutaneous hematomas were observed in 3 cases, 13 patients developed a urinary tract infection, and 2 patients died during hospitalization. Twenty-four patients (8.1%) returned because of new pain events and 23 patients reported a new painful fracture. Balloon kyphoplasty is a save and effective procedure to treat patients with painful vertebral compression fractures. Rapid patient mobilization after kyphoplasty, as well as a prompt reintegration into the social environment, are possible. Compared to other surgical procedures, especially in patients with an average age of 75 years, balloon kyphoplasty seems to offer some advantages. However, the procedure still has a potential for serious complications and should be performed by well trained personnel.
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