Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a small tube (about the size of a straw) is inserted into damaged vertebra in order to strengthen the vertebra and reduce or eliminate pain.

Things You Should Know About Vertebroplasty

Vertebroplasty has been performed for over 25 years and is typically used in patients who suffer compression fractures from osteoporosis, bone cancer, or other causes.

  • Vertebroplasty is often performed as an outpatient procedure.
  • The procedure can take as little as 10 to 15 minutes.
  • In most cases, vertebroplasty is performed under local anesthesia with sedation rather than general anesthesia.
  • Vertebroplasty is considered “minimally invasive” because only a very small incision is made near the spine.

Patient Preparation: At Home

  • Do not eat or drink for at least several hours before the procedure. Follow the instructions from the University Spine Center.
  • Arrange to have a family member or friend accompany you. This person should drive you home after the procedure.
  • If you take prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, tell your doctor. The University Spine Center team will let you know what drugs you may take on the day of the procedure.

What to Expect During the Procedure

The longest part of the procedure involves getting set up and finding the exact right spot in your spine to insert the tube. The University Spine Center surgical team uses a fluoroscope (a video X-ray) to pinpoint the exact spot.

You will be given medication to help you relax and local anesthesia in the area of the back where the surgeon will be working. However, you will be awake and aware of what is going on. The surgical team may talk to you during the operation.

After the Procedure

  • You may feel pressure on the incision site as it is bandaged. Stitches are usually not required.
  • You may be well enough to stand up and walk in about an hour or two.
  • You may be asked to remain in bed for the first 24 hours after surgery, although you may be allowed to get up and use the bathroom.
  • Talk with your doctor about resuming your usual activities.
  • If it gives you relief, you may use an ice pack for up to 15 minutes at a time around the incision site, but do not remove the bandage.
  • Your doctor will tell you when you should come back to University Spine Center for a check-up. The incision will be checked to make sure you are healing properly.

Possible Complications

All surgery carries some degree of risk. Discuss these risks and any other concerns you might have with your physician.

Possible Benefits

Many people who undergo vertebroplasty experience substantial pain relief, up to and including complete relief from pain. Some people get complete pain relief right after surgery. However, not all patients who undergo vertebroplasty will obtain immediate or complete pain relief.