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Vertebroplasty Procedure Explained

What is Vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is a procedure used to treat fractures in the spine called vertebral compression fractures (VCF). This type of procedure is considered one of the least invasive types of procedures for this kind of injury. The operation consists of injecting bone cement into damaged bones inside the fractured vertebrae. The cement is injected into the fracture which then hardens. The spine will then be supported as the fractures become stabilized.

Who should have the surgery?

Usually vertebroplasty is considered when non-surgical treatments (back brace, bed rest, or pain medication) have been unsuccessful. Patients that have the following are typically considered for the vertebroplasty procedure:

1. Osteoporosis from metabolic disorder or prolonged steroid treatment
2. Frailness from being elderly and have damaged bones
3. Malignant tumor from vertebral compression

How is the Procedure Performed?

Vertebroplasty is an outpatient procedure. The procedure is conducted using x-ray imaging and conscious sedation. After the patient is sedated, the radiologist uses image guidance to help assist in filling the fractured bone with the cement compound. Then, the compound is injected into the vertebrae with a fine needle. The procedure can last between one to two hours depending on the severity of the damage and amount of fractures being treated.

How Do I Prepare?

Patients will need to go through a clinical evaluation to identify if there is a compression fracture that will need vertebroplasty. This can involve bone-strengthening medication, X-rays, physical exams, blood tests, radioisotope bone scans and more during treatment.

To prepare for the day of the procedure, drink only clear fluids for about 6 hours before surgery and continue use of prescribed medications. Patients should plan accordingly and arrange to have someone drive them home after the procedure is completed.

What Are the Benefits of Vertebroplasty?

– It is generally a safe procedure
– Functional abilities may increase without physical therapy or rehabilitation
– Mobility may be restored
– Increased muscle strength

For more information about vertebroplasty, check out these resources:

Still have questions about vertebroplasty, feel free to contact Via Radiology today!

About Via Radiology

Via Radiology provides Seattle radiology and diagnostic imaging procedures including bone density exams, mammography, ultrasound, MRI, PET scan exams and CT scan exams. Contact us online for more information.