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Vertebroplasty is a nonsurgical pain treatment for spinal compression fractures cause by osteoporosis or bone tumors.

General Overview:

Vertebroplasty is a pain treatment for vertebral compression fractures in the acute or subacute setting. The procedure is a nonsurgical treatment performed by interventional radiologists using imaging guidance. The 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 in patients with osteoporosis or metastatic bone disease. 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.

If the vertebra isn't treated, it can heal in 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.

Details of the Procedure:
The exam is performed as an outpatient under conscious sedation in the radiology interventional suite. A small skin nick is made over the patient's back. Using real-time x-rays, a small needle is placed into the collapsed (fractured) vertebral body. Medical-grade bone cement is then slowly injected into the fracture. The cement stabilizes the fracture and acts like an 'internal cast' for that vertebral body. The radiologist can treat multiple fractures at a time. The overall procedure time can vary depending on the number of fractures being treated, but generally the procedure takes an hour or two. Typically, the patient can be released home on the same day.

Results & Recovery:
Many patients experience immediate relief from the procedure. The overwhelming majority of patients report improvement of pain symptoms within 48 hours. Most patients can resume normal daily activities immediately after the procedure.

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