Percutaneous vertebroplasty is done as an outpatient procedure. Medications are administered intravenously to help the patient relax. The interventional radiologist places a needle into the affected vertebra and fills the damaged area with a bone cement.
The bone cement is a plastic paste like that used by dentists. The cement holds the fragile bones in place making the vertebra stronger. A special imaging machine allows the radiologist to select the exact placement for the needle that is used throughout the procedure. It also shows the cement as it fills the vertebra. The procedure usually lasts one to two hours.
For many patients, the pain is lessened or even gone within 24 hours. There maybe side effects or problems. In some cases, increased pain and fever may occur for a short time. This is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.
Other risks to the patient include infection and allergic reactions to x-ray dye or other medications. There is a very small risk that the cement could leak into areas outside of the vertebra at the time of the procedure, causing spinal cord or nerve damage. If leakage occurs, surgery may be required.