women bending over grandchild

Osteoporosis makes bones brittle. What do we mean by sudden onset of severe pain that wraps around the body? Even daily activities, such as bending to lift an object, missing a step or tripping on a rug, can trigger a spinal compression fracture. In severe cases, even coughing or sneezing can cause a fracture!

Vertebroplasty is a  minimally invasive, non-surgical treatment for vertebral compression fractures that fail to respond to conventional medical therapy. It is also called vertebral augmentation.

How is the vertebroplasty performed?

Using image guidance called flouroscopy, an interventional radiologist stabilizes the collapsed vertebra with the injection of medical-grade bone cement into the spine. This reduces pain, and can prevent further collapse of the vertebra, thereby preventing the height loss and spine curvature commonly seen as a result of osteoporosis. Vertebroplasty dramatically improves back pain within hours of the procedure, provides long-term pain relief and has a low complication rate, as demonstrated in multiple studies.

Percutaneous vertebroplasty illustration

Percutaneous Vertebroplasty Procedure

If the vertebra isn’t provided additional support, it can heal into a compressed or flattened wedge shape. Once this occurs, the compression fracture cannot be treated effectively. It is very important for someone with persistent spinal pain lasting more than three months to consult an interventional radiologist, and people who require constant pain relief with narcotics should seek help immediately.

back to top ^

Reasons for Having Vertebroplasty

Vertebroplasty is used as an alternative to surgery for treatment of painful compression fractures. Compression fractures are typically the result of osteoporosis, but can also be caused by other conditions such as metastatic cancer.


Risks Involved in VertebroplastyiStock_000030297656Large women -couch

The chance of a complication from vertebroplasty is very low (less than 3%).

Potential risks include infection, worsening of pain, and neurological problems such as weakness or pain in the legs. There is also a slight possibility that the cement will leak into soft tissue or veins surrounding the vertebra, which can result in nerve pain and require additional treatment.

It is also possible that you may have a reaction to the contrast agent used during the procedure.

There is the risk of radiation exposure; however, it is well below the level that generally causes adverse affects.

Any operation that involves the spine carries the risk of damaging the spinal nerves, which can cause numbness or paralysis. This is very rare.


Insurance Coverage for Vertebroplasty

Generally, vertebroplasty is covered by insuranc. Vertoplasty is a covered service for Medicare beneficiaries when medically necessary. Check with your insurance carrier to be sure.


Consultation & Procedure LocationsCarrying Groceries

Consultations for vertebroplasty are done at the RIA Endovascular Clinic.

The procedure is performed at hospitals within different health systems in the region.


Scheduling Your Procedure

To schedule a consultation to discuss vertebroplasty as a treatment option, call our office at 720-493-3406.


Preparation Guidelines

Following are the general preparation guidelines for vertebroplasty. At your consultation, you will receive information based on your specific situation. Please contact us at 720.493.3406 if you have any questions.

    • Stop taking blood-thinning medications 3-5 days before the procedure (contact your doctor first to ensure it is safe).Physician With Patient
    • Do not eat or drink anything but clear liquids for 8 hours before the procedure; do not drink anything for 4 hours before the procedure.
    • Prepare for an overnight stay in the hospital.
    • Arrange for someone to drive you home from the procedure.


What to Expect During Your Procedure

Prior to the date of the procedure, you will have to receive an MRI or a CT scan and bone scan. You will fill out paperwork and consent forms so the radiologist will know your medical history.

When you come in for the procedure, you will be asked to change into a gown. After answering any questions you have, a technologist will start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm. You will be given conscious sedation through the IV to help you relax. Then you will be positioned on your stomach so the radiologist can easily access your spine. The site of the procedure will be cleansed and given a local anesthetic.

A fluoroscope will be moved into position above the affected vertebra. A small incision (less than one centimeter) will be made over the compressed vertebra.

An interventional radiologist will place a small tube or hollow needle through the incision and guide it to the correct position. Using image guidance, the interventional radiologist will inject a small amount of bone cement into the vertebra through a needle. After the needle and/or tube are removed, the incision will be closed with tape. The local anesthetic should prevent you from feeling anything, but be sure to tell the radiologist if you experience any pain or discomfort during the procedure.

The procedure takes 45-60 minutes for each compressed vertebra that is being treated. After all vertebrae have been repaired, you will remain on the table for 15-20 minutes to allow the cement time to harden. You will then be taken to a recovery area where you will be carefully monitored. Patients usually go home the same day.


Recovering from Your Procedure

RIA Endovascular Waiting Room

RIA Endovascular waiting room

Pain medication is most often not needed following the procedure. Pain, when persistent, may be alleviated with non-prescription acetaminophen. Your incisions should stay covered and dry for 24 hours. There are no restrictions on your activity after either procedure.

Some people experience immediate relief from the pain caused by their compression fractures, while others may take a couple days to feel a reduction in pain. There is a risk of fracture to the adjacent vertebral bodies over time. If new symptoms develop, you should contact your doctor or RIA Endovascular.


Comprehensive Fracture Care

Post procedure, we will discuss using a bone-building agent to treat your underlying condidtion.  RIA Endovascular also offer educational classes on osteoporosis to support patients with information regarding how patients can best manage the underlying condition.


Consults. Referrals. Scheduling. Appointments.

Call 720.493.3406.