FAQs on Vertebroplasty in Colorado
Percutaneous vertebroplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses a medical grade cement injected into a fractured vertebral body (bone of the spine). The procedure offers long-term pain relief for vertebral compression fractures (VCFs).
Who is a candidate for vertebroplasty?
Vertebroplasty is used to stabilize a VCF allowing the patient to decrease use of pain medicine and resume normal activity. The procedure is not use for people with a blood-thinning disorder, an active infection, or who are in poor health. Vertebroplasty is good for:
- Anyone who is unresponsive to conservative therapy.
- Patients who are at risk for developing complications due to a vertebral fracture.
What causes VFCs?
The most common cause of VCFs is osteoporosis. According to the Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis, which includes half of women over age 50 years. Other causes are trauma, bone cancer, and osteonecrosis.
How will I prepare for the vertebroplasty procedure?
Before the procedure, you will meet with the surgeon to discuss your condition and needs. Once you and the doctor agree to vertebroplasty, the doctor will order some diagnostic pre-operative tests. You must hold any medications that thin the blood for 7 days before the procedure, and should arrange to have someone drive you home and around to appointments for 2-3 weeks after your procedure. Wear loose-fitting clothing for the procedure, and don’t eat/drink after midnight the day beforehand.
How is the vertebroplasty done?
Vertebroplasty is performed in a surgical center. Most patients require overnight stay, but some go home the same day. After you change into a gown, the nurse places an IV catheter in your arm. Monitoring devices are attached to your arms to check blood pressure and heart rate. After you are positioned face-down, anesthesia is given. The doctor makes a small incision over the targeted vertebra. Using fluoroscopic guidance, a needle is advanced into the vertebral body. Once positon is verified, the bone cement is injected. After this, the needle is removed, and the incision is closed with sutures.
What can I expect after the vertebroplasty procedure?
After vertebroplasty, you will be monitored in the recovery area for 1-2 hours as you awake from anesthesia. You will be moved to a room once you are stable. The nurse will help you get to the bathroom, but you are not permitted to lift, twist, or bend for a few days. The doctor may have you see a physical therapist after you are discharged. You should keep your incision clean and dry, avoid soaking in a tub, swimming, or getting in a sauna for 7 days, and must return to your follow-up appointment to have stiches removed.
Does vertebroplasty work?
In a study involving 231 patients, the use of vertebroplasty yielded a 90% success rate in treating osteoporotic vertebral fractures. In addition, the procedure had an 80% efficacy rate for treating unstable neoplastic lesions. All clinical studies have found that vertebroplasty offers good to excellent pain relief.
Does vertebroplasty hurt?
You will be given anesthesia, so will have no memory of the procedure. The doctor will also numb the region with a local agent, which helps with post-operative pain. The nurses will give you medication to keep you comfortable. Expect some pain at the incision site, but this can easily be relieved with your medicines and post-operative measures.
- Pre-Vertebroplasty Work-up
- Outcome Studies
- Future Developments
Predey TA, Sewall LE, & Smith SJ (2002). Percutaneous Vertebroplasty: New Treatment for Vertebral Compression Fractures. Am Fam Phys, 66(4) 611-616.