Vertebroplasty is an outpatient procedure for stabilizing compression fractures of vertebra by injecting special bone cement into back bones (vertebrae) that have cracked or broken, often because of osteoporosis. The cement eventually hardens, stabilizes the fractures and supports spine.
Indications for Vertebroplasty
Surgeon may recommend the procedure in following cases:
- Traditional methods of treating fractured vertebra or back pain fail
- Severe or prolonged pain or immobility
- Elderly or frail patients
- Vertebral compression due to a malignant tumor
Fractured vertebra with more serious complications like deep vein thrombosis, acceleration of osteoporosis, respiratory problems, loss of height and emotional or social issues.
Vertebroplasty is performed under general or local anaesthesia while using real-time x-rays to reach the target area. A needle is inserted into the fractured vertebra and bone cement is slowly injected into the vertebra. A second injection may also be required in case the vertebra is not completely filled. It takes around one hour for each fracture and patient also needs to lie on their back for 1 hour after the procedure while the cement hardens. Patient may experience pain relief almost immediately after the procedure, but it might take up to 72 hours.
Advantages of Vertebroplasty
Safe and effective procedure
No surgical incision is needed
Greatly reduces spinal pain
Allows early return to normal activity
Increase a patient’s functional abilities
Better quality of life
Vertebroplasty is a safe and well tolerated procedure but may be associated with minor complications like:
- Increased back pain
- Blood loss
- Fractures of ribs or other nearby bones
- Nerve root irritation
Cement flowing outside of the bone before it hardens