Vertebroplasty

Aimed to correct a vertebral fracture, vertebroplasty is a procedure that stabilizes the spine by injecting bone cement through a small hole in the back.

What is a Vertebroplasty?

  • Eases pain from a vertebral fracture that is most often caused by osteoporosis.
  • An image-guided procedure, vertebroplasty corrects fractures with a bone cement injection through a tiny hole in the back. After the cement hardens, the fracture is stabilized, which straightens and decompresses the spine.
  • Also known as an osteoporosis fracture, vertebral fractures most commonly ail women in their late 50s and older.
  • Procedure is minimally-invasive and normally takes just 15 minutes.

Vertebroplasty is a spinal procedure that decreases pain from a debilitating vertebral fracture of the thoracic (middle) or lumbar section of the back. The procedure consists of injecting bone cement to seal the fracture via a small hole in the back (percutaneously). Unlike Kyphoplasty, which aims to correct the roundback symptom of kyphosis, vertebroplasty is performed to support the spine and soothe pain and other incapacitating symptoms.

Many women in their late 50s or older have osteoporosis; in fact, it is estimated that close to 40 percent of American women will develop the condition, which degenerates bones, making them brittle and thin. Thinned bones are at more risk for developing fractures, which can occur in various sections of the spine. Osteoporosis fractures can be extremely painful and may greatly limit a patient's daily life, including their physical and social activity level.

Vertebral fractures may cause the affected vertebra to collapse, affecting the spine's structure and stability, as well as causing the patient's pain. Many patients with a vertebral fracture have tried conservative methods of treatment like resting for periods of time, bracing, and/or pain medication. Sometimes extreme pain may still exist, which is why vertebroplasty can be a much-needed procedure for some patients.

The procedure takes just 15 minutes and is noninvasive. Vertebroplasty is more commonly done on women in their late 50s and older because osteoporosis affects women more than men. For now, Medicare is the only insurance that covers the cost of vertebroplasty, even though this procedure is considerably needed.

What does it treat?

  • Osteoporosis Complications
    • Vertebral fracture, also known as an osteoporosis fracture
    • Collapsed vertebrae
  • Compressed and/or Unstable Spine
  • Weakened spine

Who are good candidates?

Ideal candidates for vertebroplasty experience painful symptoms from a vertebral fracture. Pain may be of varying strengths. Patients eligible for this procedure should have pain for at least 3 months that have failed to relieve after attempts at conservative methods of treatment. Additionally, patients should have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Acute or chronic pain of varying severities that is sharp, dull, deep, throbbing, constant, and/or shooting
  • Pain that hinders patient's quality of life and limits their everyday activities, whether physical or social
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling sensation felt from the pain
  • Difficulty standing, walking, or standing straight
  • Past efforts of conservative methods of treatment that did not help with easing pain or healing the fracture

Moreover, ideal patients should understand that physical therapy may be required during their recovery, and ought to be positive towards effective pain improvement and management.

What is the procedure like?

A quick procedure, vertebroplasty takes only 15 minutes from start to finish. Patients are under local anesthesia while the procedure is carried out.

The following are the usual steps of vertebroplasty:

  • After taking a sedative and given local anesthetic, the patient lies on their stomach. Next, the surgeon will prep the area on the back for the incision.
  • The surgeon creates a very small incision the shape and size of a hole. Then, a small needle is inserted into the incision and guided towards the affected vertebra with help from X-ray imaging.
  • The bone cement is now injected from the needle and into the fracture to fill in the empty spaces and stabilize the vertebra.
  • Once finished with the injection, the surgeon removes the needle and closes the incision with sutures.

Related pages