A vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive (small skin puncture) procedure that injects cement into one or more fractured vertebra to stabilize the spine and reduce or eliminate pain. Other benefits include increased mobility, decreased need for narcotics and to prevent future vertebral collapse. Complications are rare, but can include increased back pain, infection, bleeding, numbness/tingling and leaking of the cement causing nerve compression. You will require a ride home.

When you arrive, a nurse will obtain a description of your pain and how you are managing daily activities. Your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and weight will be recorded. Medications, allergies and a brief health history will be reviewed. It is important to let the nurse know if you have allergies to contrast (dye), Betadine or latex, if you are taking blood thinners, such as Coumadin, Plavix, Pradaxa or Lovenox, if you have diabetes or if you might be pregnant.

After discussing treatment with your physician and signing procedural consent, you will go to the X-ray room and be helped onto the X-ray table into the best position for visualizing your spine. We will try to make you as comfortable as possible. Oxygen will be given by nasal prong and monitors will be placed on you. Medications to relax you and to help with your pain will be given before and during the procedure as needed.

The physician will place the biopsy needle into the fractured vertebra using fluoroscopic guidance. PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate) cement will be injected, filling the spaces in the bone to stabilize the vertebra. The entire procedure will take about one hour.

You should plan to stay with us for about 30 minutes after your procedure to allow for the cement to harden and the sedation to wear off. A nurse will be available to answer any questions you might have and to review discharge instructions and follow up care.

When you go home

  • Care: Resume all your medications. Watch for signs of infection (fever, chills, warmth, redness or drainage) from your back. A slight amount of drainage is normal for a day or two following the procedure. You have no stitches to remove. Small bandages are on your incision and can be removed in 24 hours.
  • Activities: Do not do any heavy lifting for three months (nothing heavier than a carton of milk). After that you can gradually increase to your lifting normal weights. Walking is encouraged and bending can be done within limits of pain. Do not soak in a bathtub or shower for 24 hours
  • Pain: Ice on the injection site and taking your regular pain medications, muscle relaxants and laxatives as directed will help with any discomfort.
  • Follow-up: Make an appointment for follow up in two weeks.
Many patients will have 90 percent or better reduction in pain after 24 to 48 hours.

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