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Percutaneous Vertebroplasty

Percutaneous vertebroplasty (percutaneous means 'through the skin') is a minimally invasive procedure designed to relieve back pain caused by osteoporotic compression fractures of the thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (low-back) spine that have failed to heal normally. By injecting bone cement into the compressed vertebra, the fracture is stabilized, significantly improving or alleviating back pain.

Vertebroplasty also prevents further vertebral collapse, which is associated with height loss and spine curvature commonly seen with osteoporosis. With non-surgical therapies like vertebroplasty, you will experience less pain and risk, and you will return quickly to previous activity levels.

Procedure Preparation

When it is determined that you are a candidate for this procedure, after preliminary tests and other treatments, you will schedule an appointment with our staff at a local hospital or surgery center.

Please bring any previous imaging study results (MRI, CT, x-rays) such as films, reports, or CD-ROMs to your initial appointment. If you do not have current images, we may refer you to have them done prior to the procedure.

You will receive specific instructions to follow prior to the procedure with regard to eating and drinking.

You will need someone to accompany you home and stay with you for 12 hours post-procedure due to the effects of the medications.

Please notify our physician if you are nursing or if there is a chance you may be pregnant.

Please be prepared to discuss any medications that you are currently on with our physician, or bring you medication bottles with you to your appointment.

During the Procedure

Vertebroplasty is an advanced pain management procedure that is performed under IV sedation in a hospital or surgical center. The procedure will take approximately one hour.

A small area of skin will be numbed using a local anesthetic, which will sting for several seconds.

Using x-ray-guidance (fluoroscope), your doctor will insert a specialized needle through the skin into the damaged vertebra.

The bone cement, which has the consistency of toothpaste, will be injected through the needle into the bone.

The material will begin to harden over 10-20 minutes, stabilizing the fractured vertebra.

It is possible to treat more than one fractured vertebra at a time, if necessary.

Throughout the procedure, the physician, nurse or technologist will monitor your condition and comfort level closely.

After the Procedure

You will recover at the hospital for a period of time depending on the number of fractures that are treated - usually about 24 hours.

We will review activity rehabilitation guidelines with you.

Most patients experience marked pain relief within 24-72 hours and may resume activities soon after the procedure.

A full course of physical therapy will help you to fully recover, strengthen your back and core muscles, and maximize your recovery.