What is Vertebroplasty?
Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that stabilizes spinal fractures caused by vertebral compression from osteoporosis or a traumatic injury. The procedure is designed to stop or reduce the pain caused by the fracture, increase mobility and function and prevent progressive spinal deformity or damage.
Using imaging guidance a needle is injected into the fractured bone and a low viscosity medical grade cement mixture is slowly injected into the vertebra. One or more injection maybe performed depending on how the how the cement mixture fills the vertebra. This outpatient procedure generally takes one to two hours and the cement itself hardens and stabilizes the fracture within 15 minutes. Most report significant pain relief within a few hours of the procedure.
How does Vertebroplasty work?
Injecting the cement mixture into the vertebra reduces pain, and can prevent further collapse of the vertebra. This also prevents the height lost and spine curvature that is commonly seen as a result of osteoporosis. Within hours of the procedure dramatic improvements in back pain, function and mobility may occur. Verbebrplasty can provide long-term pain relief and has a low complication rate, as demonstrated in multiple studies.
Who is a candidate for Vertebroplasty?
Typically the best candidates for vertebroplasty have recently suffered a compression fracture, have moderate to severe back pain and a non-healing vertebral compression fracture. Osteoporosis causes most compression fractures followed by traumatic injury. Vertebroplasty is generally not helpful for chronic back pain or disc problems.
To determine whether vertebroplasty is the right treatment option, the doctor will order X-rays of the spine, and other imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a bone scan. These tests help to determine where the fractures are and how recently they occurred.
What is the success rate and risks?
The most recent studies report that vertebroplasty has a 90% and higher success rates for significantly relieving pain associated with vertebral compression fractures. Benefits include:
- Increased quality of life and well-being
Rapid recovery time
Immediate pain relief (or within 48 hours)
Complications from vertobroplasty are rare and only affect – 3 % of patients with osteoporotic compression fractures. The success rate potential complications depend on the health and other factors of each patient. You should discuss these risks and complications with your doctor.