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Vertebroplasty (Vertebral Compression Fractures)

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine


Vertebroplasty (Vertebral Compression Fractures)

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
Vertebral compression fractures are most often caused by osteoporosis but can also occur if a person jumps from a great height and lands on his feet. Vertebroplasty is a procedure used to treat vertebral compression fractures by restoring vertebral height and stabilizing the spinal column, preventing further collapse of the vertebrae.

The procedure is minimally invasive and usually done on an outpatient basis requiring only mild sedation. Through a small incision on the back a large biopsy needle is inserted in the vertebrae using X-ray imaging to guide the surgeon. The bone cement is prepared with a material that is visible to the fluoroscope and slowly injected in to the fractured vertebrae until an amount adequate to stabilize the vertebrae has been inserted. A sample of the cement is retained and observed for ten to 15 minutes to ensure it is hardening appropriately. Once this is verified the patient can be transferred to recovery where she will lie on her back for one hour to allow the cement time to completely harden.

Pain relief can be immediate or may take up to three days, but the patient can usually return to a normal activity level immediately. She will be prescribed muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medications to deal with residual pain from the procedure.

Vertebroplasty has a high success rate with few complications, but the patient should be aware of the possibilities before undergoing the procedure. One possible complication of vertebroplasty is leakage of the surgical cement into the spinal column. Normally this does not cause any side effects but in rare cases may enter the bloodstream and cause an embolism, or blockage of the blood vessels. A second possible complication is cement leakage toward the spine that may damage nerve roots. These complications are extremely rare risks of which the patient should be aware.

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