What Is Vertebroplasty?
Vertebroplasty is a procedure that offers relief to patients suffering prolonged and debilitating pain from compression fractures in the spinal vertebrae. It involves injecting bone cement into the vertebrae to stabilize fractures, and results in significant pain relief and restoration of mobility in many patients. Read more about vertebroplasty.
How Are Spinal Fractures Treated?
Most fractures of the spine are treated with bed rest until the pain goes away. Pain medicines, back braces and physical therapy may also be used. For some patients, doctors may prescribe a medicine called calcitonin. It appears to help make the bone stronger. Sometimes, patients may need surgery to secure the spine using a bone graft or an internal metal device. A treatment called vertebroplasty may help hold the fractured bone in place and relieve pain.
Complications in India
- Neurologic defect (from central canal or neural foraminal narrowing)
- Fracture of vertebra, rib, or sternum (from positioning on table or placement of needle)
- Allergic reaction
- Pulmonary embolus
- Pneumothorax or hemothorax
A small incision is made, and a hollow needle is passed through the incision and through the spinal muscles. The tip of the needle is positioned within the fractured vertebra. Once the needle is shown to be in the precise position, orthopedic cement is injected. This is medical cement that hardens very quickly, in approximately 10 to 20 minutes. The crushed bone fragments are fused together and no longer wear against the nerve endings when the patient moves.
Vertebroplasty usually lasts around two hours, and the patient is allowed to go home straight after, under supervision. For two or three days after the vertebroplasty, pain may occur at the site of injection. Pain can be relieved with an icepack, but remember to keep the incision area clear by using a cloth before applying the icepack.
Seventy-five percent of people who have lost mobility due to back pain regain mobility after vertebroplasty. After only a few weeks, many sufferers are able to lower any pain medication they had been using before the procedure. Vertebroplasty is a safe procedure, but occasionally a small amount of cement may leak out of the vertebral body. This should not cause a serious problem unless the leakage moves to a dangerous location, such as the spinal canal. Other rare complications include infection, bleeding and increased back pain. A doctor should be consulted immediately if any of these occur.