Vertebroplasty is a procedure in which a special cement is injected into a fractured vertebra — with the goal of relieving your spinal pain and restoring your mobility. Not all people with fractured vertebrae are candidates for the procedure, however. Some studies also suggest that vertebroplasty provides little benefit over a more conservative approach, which can include:
- Bed rest
- Pain relievers
- Muscle relaxants
- Back Braces
- Physical therapy
How Vertebroplasty Works?
Before the procedure:
- Your doctor will likely order an X-ray, take a complete medical history and do a physical exam to determine the precise location and nature of your vertebra-related pain. Your doctor might also use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or a Computed Tomography Scan(CT or CAT scan).
- Tell your doctor about all prescription and over-the-counter medications and any herbal supplements you are taking.
- Tell your doctor if you have a history of bleeding disorders or if you are taking any anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications, aspirin or other medications that affect blood clotting.
During the procedure, your doctor:
- Gives you sedation medication to help you relax and keep calm during the procedure, or general anesthesia for severe pain.
- Uses a continuous X-ray to guide the needle into the fractured vertebra, with your body protected from the radiation.
- Slowly injects cement into the vertebra. Depending on how the cement enters the vertebra, your doctor might apply a second injection to completely fill it.
After the procedure:
- You will probably lie on your back for 1 hour while the cement hardens.
- It will likely remain in an observation room for an additional 1 to 2 hours.
- You may experience pain relief almost immediately after the procedure, but it might take up to 72 hours. Your doctor can provide you with over-the-counter pain relievers for the temporary discomfort.
- Your doctor will assess your pain and check for any possible complications.
- You may need to continue wearing a back brace, but it’s usually unnecessary.
- It will come back for a follow-up appointment in a few weeks.