UW Health osteoporosis specialists perform vertebroplasty for patients with osteoporotic fracture.
Vertebroplasty Procedure Overview
The most common location of osteoporotic fracture is the spine. These vertebral fractures may cause severe pain and possibly require narcotics, bedrest and/or a back brace. Recently, improved techniques to treat vertebral fractures have been developed.
These procedures - vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty - involve injecting a liquid bone cement into the fractured vertebra using needles positioned under X-ray visualization. When the cement hardens, the fracture is stabilized and the pain is often relieved. Approximately 80 percent of treated patients have long-term substantial pain relief, which often begins within 48 hours. Individuals with back pain from other causes, such as a ruptured disk, will not benefit.
What to Expect
The procedure lasts between one and two hours and is performed while the patient is awake but sedated. The fractured vertebra is identified by X-ray, local anesthetic is injected, and then one or two needles are guided into the collapsed vertebral body. When the needles are in the right place the liquid bone cement is injected and the needles are removed. The cement hardens in a few minutes and provides new stability to the fractured vertebra. When the patent is fully alert he/she is free to leave. Complications are uncommon and follow-up care is scheduled with the clinic.