STATE-OF-THE-ART RELIEF FOR BACK PAIN
Bed rest and strong pain medicine are no longer the only treatments for back pain caused by compression fractures of the spine.
Now there is a breakthrough medical procedure called Percutaneous vertebroplasty that uses bone cement to fill in the spaces of a broken or crushed vertebra. Percutaneous vertebroplasty strengthens the treated vertebra and gives pain relief in most patients. It can be done quickly, is cost-effective and has a short recovery time.
Vertebrae are bones that form a flexible column to protect the spinal cord. A compression fracture occurs when a vertebra breaks or is crushed. When this happens, a person can feel extreme pain that may last a lifetime. Often the pain keeps the person from performing normal activities. Certain cancers, benign tumors, or osteoporosis of the spine can cause compression fractures.
Osteoporosis, the most common form of compression fractures, is the loss of bone mass. It is most often found in women after menopause, and can also be caused by certain medications or diseases. Osteoporosis is the most common form of compression fractures. Many patients with compression fractures caused by Osteoporosis can be helped with this procedure.
What to Expect
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.