Vertebroplasty

Surgery Overview

Vertebroplasty (say "VER-tuh-broh-plas-tee") is done to relieve pain from compression fractures of the spine.

The doctor will make a small cut in your back and insert a hollow needle or tube. When the needle is in place, the doctor injects a type of cement into the vertebra. The entire procedure can take 1 to 2 hours. The cement mixture will get hard in about half an hour.

You will likely go home the same day. You may take some pain medicine for a few days.

How Well It Works

Experts looked at a large group of studies of vertebroplasty. They found that there is no strong evidence vertebroplasty is better than nonsurgical treatment, such as pain medicine, rest, and exercise. These experts do not recommend vertebroplasty.footnote 1

Risks

Possible problems from the surgery include:

  • Allergic reactions.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Infection.
  • A blood clot that travels to the lung (pulmonary embolism).

Problems are more common when more than one vertebra is treated at the same time.

Talk to your doctor about how this surgery compares with other treatments you might have.

References

Citations

  1. Esses SI, et al. (2011). The treatment of symptomatic osteoporotic spinal compression fractures. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 19(3): 176–182. Also available online: http://www.aaos.org/research/guidelines/guide.asp.

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