Approximately 700,000 vertebral, or spine bone fractures occur each year, usually in women over the age of 60. Vertebroplasty is one method used to treat the pain caused by these fractures. It is an image-guided and minimally invasive outpatient procedure. Vertebroplasty can increase the patient's functional abilities, allow a return to the previous level of activity, and prevent further vertebral collapse. It is usually successful at alleviating the pain caused by a compression fracture.
- About the Procedure
- Preparing for Vertebroplasty
- After the Procedure
Location of Vertebroplasty
Vertebroplasty procedures are performed in the lower thoracic, lumbar and sacral regions.
During the Vertebroplasty procedure you will be lying on your abdomen with a pillow under the abdomen or chest, depending on the vertebra that is fractured. This is used to support the area for the procedure. A pillow will be placed under your lower legs for comfort.
Your back will be cleansed and sterile drape will be placed over you. Your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels) will be monitored frequently during the procedure and recovery.
Once everything is ready the doctor will come in, numb the skin and bone to enable placement of the needles in the vertebral body, using x-ray guidance. After the needle placement is verified then the bone cement will be injected into the fractured vertebra.
Complications are rare but can include infection, bleeding, nerve damage and getting the bone cement in the wrong place. You will be given discharge instruction that include what to look for and when to notify the doctor or nurse of possible complications
Who performs the procedure?
A Medical Doctor with special training in Interventional Radiology will perform the procedure using sterile technique, with x-ray guidance.
How long does the procedure take?
Typically the procedure takes 25-45 minutes, depending on the number of vertebra being fixed. The recovery phase lasts for 2 hours. The first hour you will be laying flat on your back. The 2nd hour the head of the bed will be raised to a sitting position. If you are fully awake, you will be able to eat and drink during the last half of recovery.
What to expect
If your pain is caused by a vertebral body fracture then you may get relief immediately after the procedure. 90% of the people who undergo this procedure have pain relief within 2 weeks.
Why is this procedure performed?
Vertebroplasty procedures are performed for acute compression fractures of a bone in the back (vertebra or spinal bone). These fractures can be very painful and affect a person’s ability to function in daily activities.
Vertebroplasty procedures are minimally invasive and nonsurgical. The procedure is done on an outpatient basis using conscious sedation.
Conscious sedation involves giving pain and sedation medications intravenously to help control pain and anxiety.
How to prepare
You will need to have blood work done the day before the procedure to monitor the thickness of your blood and to check for signs of infection. You will need to be off blood thinners and antibiotics for this procedure. If you do know if you are taking blood thinners or antibiotic please notify the nurse at our facility.
You will not be able to eat or drink anything from midnight before the procedure. You will be able to take medications with a sip of water. Contact the facilities nurse to verify what medications can be taken.
You must have a driver to take you home.
What to wear
Wear comfortable clothes. You may be asked to change into a gown if the Vertebroplasty is in the thoracic area. Lumbar procedures require the shirt to be raised and pants pulled down slightly to gain access to area to be injected.
After the procedure
You will be monitored for 2 hours to make sure you are recovering from the conscious sedation and there are not any complications from the procedure.
Activities following the procedure
For the first 24 hours, rest quietly. After this period gradually increase your activity to more normal levels but, listen to your body. If the activity that you are doing hurts, quit and wait until your body heals more. Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy to strengthen the back muscles which help support your spine.
You will not be able to shower or bathe for 48 hours, while the dressings are in place. This allows the small incisions to heal and decreases chance of infections in the needle insertion sites.