Vertebroplasty

Vertebroplasty procedureVertebroplasty is a pain treatment for vertebral compression fractures that fail to respond to conventional medical therapy, such as pain relief from analgesics or narcotics.

This nonsurgical treatment is performed by interventional radiologists using imaging guidance. Vertebroplasty 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, 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.

If the vertebra isn’t supported or stabilized, 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 chronic back pain lasting more than three months to consult an interventional radiologist. People who require constant pain relief with narcotics should seek help immediately.

Recovery
Some patients experience immediate pain relief after vertebroplasty. Most report that their pain is significantly better or gone within 48 hours. Many people can resume their normal daily activities immediately.

About Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of the bone, resulting in an increased susceptibility to fractures. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects 10 million Americans and is responsible for 700,000 vertebral fractures each year.

Multiple vertebral fractures can result in chronic pain and disability, loss of independence, stooped posture, and compression of the lungs and stomach. Nearly all vertebral fractures in otherwise healthy people are due to osteoporosis and can occur from even a minor impact, such as a bump or a fall. People who have a spinal fracture often don’t realize that they may have osteoporosis because the disease is symptomless until a fracture occurs.

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

  • Being female
  • Being thin or having a small frame
  • Advanced age
  • A family history of osteoporosis
  • Being past menopause
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Anorexia or bulimia
  • A diet low in calcium
  • Long-term use of medications such as corticosteroids or anticonvulsants
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol

What to Expect
Prior to appointments, Gwinnett Medical Center patients are asked to come in for routine lab work. It is preferred that patients have their lab work performed at Gwinnett Medical Center so the radiology nurses have access to the results. Our radiology nurses call each patient shortly after the procedure is scheduled to obtain a health history and provide instructions.

For most interventional radiology exams, patients need to arrive in admissions two hours before their scheduled procedure time on the day of the exam. Patients will check in at admissions before being taken to the Imaging Nursing Unit, where an interventional radiologist will come to talk with the patient before the procedure. The patient will then be prepped for the exam and taken to the Interventional Radiology Suite for the procedure. Following the procedure, the patient will return to the Imaging Nursing Unit for recovery. The recovery time varies based on the procedure. After the patient is then discharged, he or she will receive a follow-up call the next day.

Call 678-312-3444 to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Lawrenceville, Duluth or Hamilton Mill.