What is Vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is an outpatient procedure used to provide pain relief for patients suffering from spinal fracture. The procedure uses X-ray imaging to guide a needle into the fractured vertebra. Acrylic bone cement is then injected in an effort to stabilize the fracture with an internal cement cast.

How Does Vertebroplasty Differ From Balloon Kyphoplasty?

Balloon kyphoplasty uses orthopedic balloons to create a cavity in the fractured vertebra for the bone cement. In addition to restoring vertebral height, this cavity allows for a more controlled injection of bone cement, and significantly reduces the injection pressure being placed on the vertebra during the procedure.1

What Can I Expect During This Procedure?

For the vertebroplasty, you will be awake but given light sedation. The procedure is performed with you lying facedown so the physician (typically an interventional radiologist or spine surgeon) has access to your back.

Your back is numbed by a local anesthetic and a small incision is then made. Guided by x-ray cameras, a hollow needle is passed through the spinal muscles and into the fractured vertebra. When the needle is in the correct position, bone cement is injected through the needle into the vertebra. You will need to lie flat on your back for a couple of hours afterward while the cement hardens.

After the procedure, you will likely be discharged that same day and can resume normal activity shortly thereafter. The procedure can take up to 2 hours, depending on the number of fractures that are treated.

What Are the Potential Benefits and Risks Associated With Vertebroplasty?

There are many potential benefits of a vertebroplasty, including:

  • Pain relief
  • Resuming normal activity. Most people are able resume previous levels of activity within a few days.

As with any surgery, vertebroplasty also has some risks. These may include cement leakage, infection and spinal cord injury. There is also the risk that this surgical procedure will not be effective, and may not relieve or may cause worsening of preoperative symptoms.

Please consult your doctor for more information and an explanation of these risks.

If you are looking to restore vertebral height following a spinal fracture, you might consider the balloon kyphoplasty procedure.