Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that is designed to relieve the pain of compression fractures. Vertebroplasty means fixing the vertebral body. In addition to relieving pain, those vertebral bodies that are weakened but not yet fractured can be strengthened, thus preventing future problems.
You will be put under general anesthesia and a special bone needle is passed slowly through the soft tissues of the back. Image guided x-ray, along with a small amount of x-ray dye, allows the position of the needle to be seen at all times. A small amount of orthopaedic cement, called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), is pushed through the needle into the vertebral body. PMMA is a medical grade bone cement that has been used for many years in a variety of orthopaedic procedures.
The cement is sometimes mixed with an antibiotic to reduce the risk of infection, and a powder containing barium or tantalum, which allows it to be seen on the x-ray. When the cement is injected, it is like a thick paste, but it hardens rapidly. Usually each vertebral body is injected on both the right and left sides, just off the midline of the back. Within a few hours, patients are up and moving around. Most go home the same day.
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