The vertebroplasty procedure is a minimally-invasive procedure for painful compression fractures of the spine. The vertebroplasty procedure is performed using x-ray guidance to accurately place specifically-formulated acrylic bone cement into a partially-compressed vertebral body. During the vertebroplasty procedure, the bone cement is injected in fluid form through a needle placed in the skin and into the vertebral body. Before it hardens, the cement fills the spaces of the damaged bone, stabilizing the spinal fractures.
The vertebroplasty procedure is most effective for people who have suffered recent compression fractures, but in some cases older fractures can be treated. These vertebral compression fractures may be caused by primary or secondary osteoporosis or benign and malignant tumors.
A physical exam, as well as diagnostic tests such as x-rays, MRI and bone scans will be reviewed to pinpoint the location of the fractured vertebrae and to determine if the vertebroplasty procedure is appropriate.
The vertebroplasty procedure requires that the patient lie on their stomach throughout the entire procedure. Typically, the vertebroplasty procedure is performed under local anesthetic (for the area being treated) and sedation. A small nick is made in the skin and a needle is inserted. Biocompatible bone cement is injected through the needle and into the vertebral body. The needle is then removed and the cement allowed to harden. The small opening is covered with a bandage. The vertebroplasty procedure can take one to two hours, depending on the number of vertebrae being treated.
The patient is required to remain in observation for one to two hours after the vertebroplasty procedure. Typically, patients are then released to go home and should be able to resume normal activities within one or two days. Some patients experience immediate pain relief after the vertebroplasty procedure and most report that their pain is gone or diminished within 48 hours. However, patients may experience some discomfort or bruising where the needle was inserted after having the vertebroplasty procedure.