What is Vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is an interventional technique that consists of injecting resin into a vertebra that turns into cement to consolidate it.

Why have vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is mainly indicated in cases of vertebral fracture when the pain cannot be relieved by the usual medical treatments. Sometimes it is also used in the case of a vertebral tumor or metastasis, a vascular tumor (angioma), or a vertebral fracture (collapse) linked to osteoporosis (which also needs to be treated).

How does the procedure work?

A short hospital stay is necessary for the treatment itself, but also to wait for the resin to consolidate. The patient is usually placed on his or her stomach and should not move during the procedure. A deep local anesthetic is given prior to the treatment, and if more than one location is to be treated, a general anesthetic is given. The skin is disinfected. Then the needle is inserted into the vertebra to inject the resin and fill it under fluoroscopic control. Sometimes a balloon is inserted into the vertebra and inflated to create a small cavity (and/or to reduce the deformity due to compression) into which the resin or natural bone cement is injected (balloon vertebroplasty). This resin or cement hardens quickly (in 8 to 10 minutes), but it will take 12 hours before consolidation is complete, and the patient can stand up and load the treated area.

And after the operation?

In most cases (98%), the pain associated with the fracture subsides in the following days. Sometimes there is a pain in the area of the operation: this is controlled by painkillers. Afterward, monitoring, including X-rays, is necessary to ensure that the treated vertebra is progressing well and that there are no possible complications.

What are the possible complications?

They are rare. An infection or the appearance of a hematoma at the site of the operation is possible. The infection will be treated with antibiotics, and the hematoma will, in most cases, reabsorb.

Occasionally, the cement may leak out of the bone through small cracks (in 1 to 5% of cases) and cause problems when it is located in the vicinity of nerve structures (spinal cord, spinal nerves). In the case of massive discharge, it may be necessary to inject an anesthetic or perform surgery to avoid nerve compression. Finally, there is a risk of re-fracture of the treated vertebra or fracture of the vertebrae close to the treated vertebra.