Vertebroplasty is an outpatient procedure for stabilizing compression fractures in the spine. Bone cement is injected into back bones (vertebrae) that have cracked or broken, often because of osteoporosis. The cement hardens, stabilizing the fractures and supporting your spine.

Vertebroplasty can greatly reduce pain and allow you to return to normal activity.

  • Experience. Each year, Mayo Clinic specialists perform hundreds of vertebroplasties. Mayo was one of the first centers in the U.S. to offer vertebroplasty.
  • Cutting-edge medicine. Mayo Clinic specialists use the latest imaging technology to pinpoint the source of back pain. During vertebroplasty Mayo specialists use sophisticated image guidance and minimally invasive techniques that speed your recovery.
  • Team approach. Treating spinal compression fractures takes cooperation by specialists in radiology (neuroradiologists), neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery and endocrinology. Mayo specialists work together so that you get the expertise you need to solve your problem.
  • Time for you. Your Mayo Clinic doctor will take time to discuss options and answer your questions about vertebroplasty.
  • New ideas. Mayo Clinic researchers are studying improved materials and techniques for treating compression fractures in the spine. You have access to the expertise of Mayo's clinician-researchers.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks #1 for neurology and neurosurgery in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for orthopedics and for rehabilitation by U.S. News & World Report.

Vertebroplasty is used to treat compression fractures in the spine. A compression fracture occurs when pressure on a vertebra causes it to break or crack. Compression fractures are often extremely painful and can cause abnormal spine curvature that leads to other serious health problems.

Vertebroplasty is one treatment that's available for compression fractures of the spine. Other options include over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers, bed rest, back bracing, and physical therapy. For people with severe, disabling pain caused by a compression fracture, vertebroplasty can relieve pain, increase mobility and reduce the use of pain medication.

Mayo Clinic specialists may recommend vertebroplasty if:

  • Your pain is severe and the result of a compression fracture
  • Other, more-conservative treatments haven't relieved your pain
  • You can't get out of bed, even after 24 hours of pain medication
  • Physical therapy is intolerable due to pain
  • Imaging tests (X-rays, MRI and bone scan) can pinpoint the location and age of the compression fracture

Most people can be treated as outpatients and return home the same day. During vertebroplasty you are usually awake, but sedated, and lie on your stomach. Your back is numbed by a local anesthetic, and a small incision is made.

Guided by X-ray cameras, your doctor injects bone cement into the damaged vertebra with a needle. Vertebroplasty usually takes about 40 minutes for each vertebra that is treated.

Vertebroplasty has several benefits:

  • Return to normal activity. Many people with compression fractures are unable to do everyday tasks because of the pain. Vertebroplasty stabilizes the fracture, allowing most people to resume previous levels of activity within a few days.
  • Reduced pain medication. Vertebroplasty reduces and sometimes eliminates the need for pain medication.

As with any surgery, vertebroplasty has risks. These may include cement leakage, infection and spinal cord injury.

Kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is similar to vertebroplasty, but uses special balloons to create spaces in the spine that are then filled with bone cement. Kyphoplasty can correct spinal deformity and restore lost height.

Follow-up care

Your Mayo Clinic treatment team includes rehabilitation specialists who help you regain strength and resume normal activities after vertebroplasty. Mayo specialists can also help manage osteoporosis or other conditions that caused your bone damage.

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty treatments are performed by spine specialists in radiology and neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona. Specialists from endocrinology are available to treat osteoporosis.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty treatments are performed by spine specialists in radiology and neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida. Specialists from endocrinology are available to treat osteoporosis.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty treatments are performed by spine specialists in radiology and neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota. Specialists from endocrinology are available to treat osteoporosis.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo doctors are conducting clinical trials of an alternative material for stabilizing compression fractures. Mayo researchers also are working to classify the types and age of fractures that are best treated by vertebroplasty as well as studying long-term results of the procedure.

Scientists in the Biomechanics Laboratory are active in a number of areas of spine research.

See a list of publications by Mayo authors on vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

April 01, 2015