VERTEBROPLASTY

GOALS:

The goal of using vertbroplasty with spinal compression fractures is to relieve acute pain in the spine and allow a patient to return to their functional lifestyle more rapidly.

BENEFITS:

Vertebroplasty is able to relieve, and in some patients, eliminate the pain associated with the compression fracture.

It may also reduce the need for pain medication.

Following vertebroplasty, the treated vertebra is less likely to fracture again, and the pain relief achieved enables many patients to return to their previous level of activity.

CONDITIONS TREATED:

Vertebroplasty procedures may be performed for painful compression fractures. This procedure was originally developed to treat painful bone tumors in the spine.

PROCEDURE:

Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which special cement is injected into the fractured vertebral body, filling the spaces within the bone.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR POSSIBLE VERTEBROPLASTY:

Severe pain as a result of a compression fracture. Other conservative treatments such as taking pain medicine, resting, avoiding injury, and bracing have not relieved the pain. The compression fracture is less than six months old, and imaging tests (X-rays, MRI and bone scan) can pinpoint the location and age of the compression fracture.

RISKS:

The complications for vertebroplasty are usually minimal but can include:

  • Hemorrhaging
  • loss or other surrounding bone fractures
  • Fever
  • Nerve root irritation
  • Infection
  • Flow of cement outside of the bone before it hardens

In a small number of patients, vertebroplasty may worsen the pain for a few hours as the cement hardens and resolves within a few hours.

RECOVERY:

Most people can be treated as outpatients and return home the same day. Although pain is reduced or eliminated after the procedure, patients must exercise caution in subsequent activities because other osteoporotic vertebral bodies may also be prone to fracture.