Vertebroplasty

Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat compression fractures of the vertebrae, the bones that make up the spine.

This procedure is used to help relieve pain resulting from spinal compression, and is often recommended for patients who are unable to tolerate open spinal surgery, particularly the elderly or those with autoimmune disorders. Vertebroplasty is also used on patients for whom nonsurgical treatments for back pain have proven ineffective.

As many as 75 percent of patients receiving this procedure regain lost mobility, experience pain relief and an ability to resume past activities, which in turn helps overcome osteoporosis. Most patients experience a pronounced relief of pain from spinal compression, and many lose symptoms of spine compression entirely.

The procedure 

During vertebroplasty, your physician injects special cement through a trocar (special needle) that's inserted into the fractured bone. Polymethylacrylate (PMMA) is as a key ingredient in the cement. This medical cement typically hardens within 20 minutes.

The procedure uses the posterior (back) approach, which requires you to be lying face-down. Specially trained neuroradiologists* or interventional radiologists* use radiographic tables and fluoroscopes to guide the needle through the spinal muscles until it is positioned within the fractured vertebra. They continue to use image-guided technology to monitor the progress of their work as they operate.

A computed tomography (CT) scan may be performed at the end of the procedure to ensure even distribution of the cement.

After the procedure 

Due to the minimally invasive nature of this procedure, complications are limited. Possible complications include:

  • Infection: There is a very slight risk of infection, common in any procedure that leads to the puncture of the skin
  • Cement leakage: Rarely, a small amount of cement can leak from the vertebra. This ordinarily causes no serious problem unless the leakage moves into a vital location.
  • Numbness, tingling, paralysis: Very rarely, some injury to spinal nerves may occur, causing adverse reactions.
  • Allergy: Some patients may be allergic to materials used in the procedure.

Legal Information
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In the spirit of keeping you well-informed, some of the physician(s) and/or individual(s) identified are neither agents nor employees of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare or any of its affiliate organizations. They have selected our facilities as places where they want to treat and care for their private patients.