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.
A number of studies have shown the benefits of vertebroplasty for people with severe disabling pain caused by a compression fracture. A Mayo Clinic study found that vertebroplasty can relieve pain, increase mobility and reduce the use of pain medication. Mayo researchers are participating in further, more comprehensive studies of vertebroplasty.
Mayo Clinic specialists may recommend vertebroplasty if:
Most people can be treated as outpatients and return home the same day. During vertebroplasty you are 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 one hour for each vertebra that is treated. You will need to lie flat on your back for two hours afterward while the cement hardens.
Vertebroplasty has several benefits:
As with any surgery, vertebroplasty has risks. These may include cement leakage, infection and spinal cord injury.
Kyphoplasty is similar to vertebroplasty, but uses special balloons to create spaces in the spine that are then filled with the bone cement. Kyphoplasty can correct spinal deformity and restore lost height. The procedure is most successful when used on compression fractures that occurred within the previous three months.
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.