General Information |
Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation |
What to Expect
Vertebroplasty is a minimally-invasive, non-surgical treatment that can alleviate the pain caused by compression fractures of the spine. In the past, patients with painful compression fractures had the options of taking pain medications, wearing a brace, getting bed rest, or undergoing surgery. These measures were often unsuccessful. Kyphoplasty is a newer procedure that has proven safe and effective. It provides approximately 85-90% of patients with rapid pain relief.
With vertebroplasty, an interventional radiologist stabilizes a collapsed vertebra with injections of medical-grade bone cement into the spine. The cementengthened vertebra reduces pain and helps prevent future fractures in the surrounding vertebrae.
During this procedure, a hole is drilled into the compressed vertebra and bone cement is injected it. As the cement quickly hardens, it emits heat which deadens the inflamed nerves. Each affected vertebra may require more than one injection to distribute the cement evenly.
Risks Involved in Vertebroplasty
The chance of a complication from vertebroplasty is very low (less than 2%). Potential risks include the following:
- Neurological problems such as weakness or pain in the legs
- Cement leakage into soft tissue or veins surrounding the vertebra, which can result in nerve pain and require additional treatment
- Reaction to the contrast agent used during the procedure
- 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.
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Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation
Consultations for vertebroplasty are done at
The procedure is performed at the following Radiology Imaging Associates
partner hospitals in the Denver, Colorado area:
To schedule a consultation to discuss vertebroplasty, call 720-493-3406.
- Medical Center of Aurora
- Littleton Adventist Hospital
- Porter Adventist Hospital
- Sky Ridge Medical Center
- Swedish Medical Center
Vertebroplasty is usually covered by insurance. Check with your insurance company to be sure. Please bring your insurance card with you to your consultation.
Conditions to Let Us Know About
When you have your consultation for vertebroplasty, let the radiologist or nurse know if any of the following circumstances apply to you:
- Previous reaction to iodine
- Previous reaction to anesthesia
- Currently taking blood thinning medication
- Coagulation disorder
- Cardiopulmonary disease
Following are the preparation guidelines for vertebroplasty. You may receive additional or differing guidelines 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's safe).
- 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.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home from the procedure.
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What to Expect
Before the Procedure
Prior to the date of the procedure, you will 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.
During the Procedure
Here is generally what will happen during vertebroplasty:
- You will change into a gown.
- A technologist will answer your questions then start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm.
- The technologist will set up various devices so your heart rate and blood pressure can be monitored throughout the procedure.
- You will be given conscious sedation through the IV to help you relax.
- You will be positioned on your stomach so the radiologist can easily access your spine.
- The site of the incision will be cleansed and anesthetized.
- A fluoroscope will be moved into position over the affected vertebra.
- An incision will be made over the compressed vertebra.
- The radiologist will place a small tube or hollow needle through the incision and guide it to the correct position.
- radiologist will drill a hole in the vertebra. Cement will be injected into the vertebra through a needle.
- After the needle and/or tube are removed, the incision will be cleaned and taped.
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 give 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.
After the Procedure
Pain medication is usually not needed after the procedure. Pain, when persistent, may be lessened with non-prescription acetaminophen. Your incisions should stay covered and dry for 24 hours. There are no restrictions on your activity after the procedure
Some people experience immediate relief from the pain caused by their compression fractures. Others may take a couple days to feel a reduction in pain. There is a risk of fracture to the neighboring vertebral bodies over time. If new symptoms develop, you should contact your doctor or the RIA Endovascular Clinic.
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