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What To Expect From A Vertebroplasty Procedure

Vertebroplasty is a surgical procedure designed to reduce pain caused by spinal fracture. Stabilization of the spine is achieved through a minimally invasive surgical procedure. In most instances, the procedure only requires an hour to complete. During the procedure, physicians make a small incision in the patient’s back near the spine. Patients suffering from compression fractures in the spine may require this procedure to relieve pain.

What to Expect From the Procedure

During the outpatient procedure, patients will be treated with local anesthesia and also light sedation medication as preparation. While sedated, surgeons guide the biopsy needle into the fractured vertebra. The needle is guided through the small incision by X-ray technology. When the area of concern is reached, acrylic bone cement will be injected into the fractured vertebra. The material should be under pressure for the best results.

After the needle is removed, the cement will harden within 10 minutes. An internal cast will be formed as the acrylic cement dries. This procedure will stabilize the bone by filling the spaces created by the fracture. After the procedure is complete, the small skin puncture will be covered with a bandage.

After the procedure is complete, the patient will be discharged and can go home the same day the procedure occurs. Restrictions may include: Patients cannot drive themselves home the day of the procedure or an overnight hotel stay may be required if home is a significant distance from the outpatient clinic.

In rare occasions, there are complications. If complications occur, patients may be required to remain in the hospital for a short period of time. Patients with no at-home assistance may also be required to remain in the hospital until they can resume normal activity.

Recovery from Vertebroplasty

Bedrest is typically recommended for 24 hours after the procedure. As the incision heals, normal activity may resume. For a few days, most patients experience soreness at the site of the incision. Most physicians recommend an ice pack to alleviate the soreness.

To prepare for the procedure, physicians typically request patients cease all medications. Most medications can be resumed within the first week of the procedure. Consult with a physician before resuming any medications. Certain medications may interfere with the healing process.

Most patients experience at least a 90 percent or better pain reduction within the first 24 to 48 hours. Once the pain is reduced by 90 percent, patients can resume daily activities. The procedure can relieve pain associated with compression fractures in the spine for up to three years after the procedure is complete.

What Type of Medical Professional Will Perform the Procedure?

Patients can expect a neuroradiologist, neurosurgeon, pain management physician, radiologist or orthopedic spine surgeons to perform the procedure. The medical professional who performs the procedure should understand acrylic bone cement preparation. Specialists should be trained to ensure the delivery of the material occurs in a safe manner. Patient care protocols and patient selection criteria is also important in the training of medical professionals specializing in this procedure.

Potential Risks Associated with the Procedure

There are few complications associated with the procedure. In fact, less than three percent of patients experience complications. When patients experience complications, the complications typically include bleeding, infections, paralysis, numbness and increased back pain. Some patients may also experience nerve root compression, venous embolism, pulmonary embolism or anesthesia complications.

Because of the cement injection and the level of pressure associated with the injection, there is a risk of cement entering the vertebral canal. No conclusive evidence shows that this procedure increases the risk of a second compression fracture in the same area, but it is always a possibility of a patient with stress fracture to experience another fracture.