Skip to main content

Vertebroplasty

If you suffer from a spine fracture, there is a strong likelihood that you suffer chronic pain along different areas of your spine. If this pain does not go away with physical therapy and worsens over time, you may be ready to consider vertebroplasty.

The article below covers vertebroplasty, the difference between kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty, and recovery.

What Is Vertebroplasty?

Percutaneous vertebroplasty, also simply called vertebroplasty, is a minimally invasive surgery to treat vertebral compression fractures. The goal of vertebroplasty is to restore mobility and reduce pain. Because the procedure is minimally invasive, recovery is often easier than other types of spine surgery.

What Is A Compression Fracture?

A vertebral compression fracture is a break in the vertebrae bones, which make up the spine. Vertebral compression fractures can occur due to an injury, but they are commonly caused by osteoporosis weakens the spinal bones.

Why Would I Need Vertebroplasty?

Individuals suffering from osteoporosis may find themselves more at risk of injury during activities that would typically not break bones, such as lifting, bending, twisting, or coughing. Up to 1.5 million people in the United States sustain a vertebral compression fracture each year.

Younger patients may also sustain fractured vertebrae, but it is often due to trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident or fall.

Cracked or broken spinal bones can cause numbness and tingling, weak muscles, and bladder incontinence due to nerve damage. The fractured vertebra may also alter the spine's alignment and lead to a loss of height and bent back.

Pain from a compression fracture can also slowly worsen, and standing and walking may become difficult.

How Does A Vertebroplasty Treat Vertebral Compression Fractures?

A vertebroplasty procedure uses medical-grade cement to stabilize and hold the spinal bones together. As the bone cement hardens, it fuses the bone fragments. It also strengthens the vertebrae and relieves pain, improving mobility and overall quality of life.

An infographic describing the vertebroplasty process.

How Is A Vertebroplasty Procedure Performed?

The physician usually performs vertebroplasty under sedation to prevent pain from the needle insertion.

A continuous X-ray helps the doctor guide the needle into the broken vertebra. This allows the doctor to visualize the spine and place the cement injection into the target vertebra.

Next, the physician slowly injects polymethylmethacrylate, or bone cement, into the vertebra. The cement hardens and stabilizes the broken bones.

The doctor removes the needle and covers the small incision site with a sterile dressing. You will go home on the same day as the procedure.

Kyphoplasty vs. Vertebroplasty for a Compression Fracture

A similar treatment called kyphoplasty is also helpful for people with a fractured vertebra.

Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are minimally invasive procedures that provide pain relief and stability for fractured vertebrae. However, the process used during kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty differs.

During a kyphoplasty minimally invasive procedure, a balloon is first inserted and inflated in the fractured vertebra. This creates a cavity and lengthens the spine to restore some of the lost height. It also improves spinal alignment, which may help decrease the risk of future fractures.

When the doctor removes the balloon, the cavity remains in place. Similar to vertebroplasty, the physician injects cement into the cavity. Once the cement hardens, the pain is relieved.

Vertebroplasty is also a treatment for compression fractures. Still, it does not involve the insertion of the balloon before injecting the cement. A vertebroplasty procedure does not restore lost height.

What Are The Risks of Vertebroplasty?

Even with minimally invasive vertebrae surgery, there are risks. Although studies indicate vertebroplasty is a safe procedure with a complication rate of about 1 to 3% , it is still essential to be aware of possible complications to make an informed decision.

Risks of a vertebroplasty include:

Cement leakage: Sometimes, the cement may leak outside the intended vertebral body. Although the side effects of cement migrating outside of the fractured vertebrae are rare, it is possible the cement may leak onto a nerve and lead to pain, numbness, and weakness.

Additional fractures: Although rare, additional fractures of nearby ribs or other vertebrae can occur. However, people with weakened bones are already at risk of fractures, so it is not entirely clear if a fracture occurred as a result of the procedure.

No pain relief: It is also possible that the procedure will not provide adequate pain relief.

What Is The Success Rate for Vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is typically successful. About 87% of people who undergo the procedure reported pain relief.

What Is The Recovery Like from Vertebroplasty?

Although it may vary, cement in the spine recovery time is usually quick. After the procedure, the doctor will provide post-operative instructions to promote healing. You may be instructed to rest for 24 hours after the procedure. You will also be told to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for at least six weeks.

You may experience pain relief and improved mobility within a few days after vertebroplasty. You may feel a little soreness at the puncture site for a day or two, but ice and over-the-counter pain medication should ease the pain.

Some also benefit from physical therapy after having a vertebroplasty. This may be helpful if you lose muscle tone and strength due to the compression fracture. Physical therapy can help strengthen back muscles, improve posture, and regain lost mobility. It is important to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions to promote quick healing.

Am I A Candidate for Vertebroplasty?

The best way to determine whether you are a good candidate for vertebroplasty is to come for a consultation. However, you may be a candidate if you have persistent or severe pain due to broken spinal bones and other treatment has failed. Also, a vertebroplasty may be an option if a compression fracture is causing immobility or other complications.

Is Vertebroplasty Right for You?

A vertebral compression fracture can occur due to injury, or more commonly, osteoporosis, or when cancer weakens the spinal bones. A compression fracture can cause pain and reduced mobility.

Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are both minimally invasive procedures that help treat cracked or broken spinal bones. The procedures can provide increased stability and pain relief.

If you have any questions about kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty or how to treat compression fractures, we are happy to help. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us today! 

References

  1. Jay B, Ahn SH. Vertebroplasty. Semin Intervent Radiol. 2013 Sep;30(3):297-306. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1353483. PMID: 24436552; PMCID: PMC3773069.
  2. Donnally, C. J., III, DiPompeo, C. M., & Varacallo, M. (2023, August 4). Vertebral compression fractures. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448171/
  3. Vertebroplasty. (2021, May 3). Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/vertebroplasty
  4. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.). Vertebroplasty. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/procedures/vertebroplasty

 

About

Advanced Spine and Pain is a leading pain management group based in Phoenix, AZ, and quickly expanding throughout the state. Offering minimally-invasive pain care services, the ASAP group consists of Arizona's top pain management specialists, including Drs. Abram Burgher, Todd Turley, and Jarrett Leathem.

Contact info

If you have any questions about our services, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us.

Follow Us