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Vertebroplasty means shaping the backbone i.e. vertebra for backbone and plasty is related to shape. This is an outpatient procedure done to treat compression fractures of the spinal cord. The backbone is made up of multiple small bones which are stacked one on top of the other with a filling material in between that is known as vertebrae. The stack of bones are held in place by the soft, elastic vertebral material.
Vertebroplasty & similar procedure called kyphoplasty is a non-surgical procedure where collapsed vertebrae is brought back to shape by injecting medical bone cement under fluroscopy / image intensifier in OT, thereby relieving pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves with special canula directed to the core of vertebral body. Indicated in osteoporotic vertebrae, spinal fracture, metastatic tumour or primary tumour of spine. This technique has replaced major surgery done earlier to reshape & fix vertabrae.
Technique: Bone cement, in a semisolid state, is injected into the weakened or fractured bone space. Once this solidifies, it provides additional support to the spine, enabling normal movement. It also helps in reducing the pain significantly and improves the overall mobility.
In what takes about an hour, the following steps are done. Earlier, a few decades ago, this would be an open surgical procedure. However, with advance technology, now it is done using a small incision
- Local anesthesia is given in the area that needs to be operated
- A biopsy needle is inserted into the fractured space with the help of an X-ray
- The acrylic bone cement is injected into the bone space with a needle to fill up the space, once it solidifies, it stabilizes the vertebral space
- The needle is removed and the incision is covered with a bandage
- Usually the patient is sent home in an hour’s time unless the overall condition is really bad
- There could be some soreness at the site where injection is given, but one can notice a significant reduction in pain from the day of the procedure
- There is also improvement in mobility while doing daily chores
- The pain relief can last up to 3 years after the procedure
- Returning back to normal activities takes about 3 to 4 days after the procedure
When to use this procedure?
Vertebroplasty is usually done in case of non-radicular pain that is intractable. In most cases, they do not respond to traditional therapies including physiotherapy, pain medications and even surgery. The pain could be due to:
Benefits of using vertebroplasty for managing pain
- Minimally invasive
- Effective way to get relief
- Improves mobility
- Reduces need for long-term use of painkillers
- Stabilizes the spine and prevents further collapse
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