Effective Treatment for Painful Vertebral Compression Fractures
Diseases such as osteoporosis or bone tumors can weaken vertebrae, the bones of the spine, which can then collapse suddenly under the force of normal daily activity. Compression fractures can cause unbearable pain and lead to significant reductions in quality of life. Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty are minimally invasive, image-guided treatments for the pain associated with compression fractures.
During consultation, a patient’s history and other factors will be considered, along with the results of diagnostic tests, such as MRI, CT, and Bone Scans. Patients who are candidates for Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty will be advised of the process, benefits, and potential risks of the procedure.
During Vertebroplasty, the collapsed vertebra is stabilized using specially formulated acrylic bone cement that helps provide pain relief and prevents further collapse of the vertebra. The procedure is performed in the Pain Management Fluoroscopy Suite or in the operating room. The delivery of bone cement into the fractured vertebra requires constant image guidance, called fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray machine.
During Kyphoplasty, the same process is followed as with Vertebroplasty, however, prior to inserting the bone cement, a high pressure balloon is inserted into the vertebra. This makes the space larger and controls the area where the cement is injected.
Moderate sedation, administered through an intravenous (IV) line, is typically used to help the patient relax during the procedure. A local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, is used to numb the area prior to and during the procedure. An antibiotic may be given as well.
During the procedure, the patient lies face down on the table. Fluoroscopy (X-ray) is used to insert one or two needles into each fractured vertebra, after a small incision is made. Acrylic bone cement is then injected into each compressed vertebrae. This is done under constant X-ray guidance, in order to closely observe the flow of cement. Once the appropriated amount of cement has been delivered into the vertebral body, the physician removes the needles and covers the small incision with a small bandage.
Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty take about an hour for the treatment of a single fractured vertebra; multiple fractures treated during the same procedure take longer. Patients relax in the recovery/observation area for a couple of hours following the procedure while the sedation wears off.
Following Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty, many patients find a marked improvement in pain control and in quality of life. Often, patients are able to reduce their pain medications and return to normal daily activities that had been inhibited by the painful vertebral compression fractures.