Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive medical procedure used to treat vertebral compression fractures, which are fractures in the bones of the spine (vertebrae). It involves the injection of a special medical-grade cement into the fractured vertebra to stabilize it and relieve pain. Vertebroplasty is typically performed by interventional radiologists and is often recommended for patients who have severe pain due to vertebral fractures caused by osteoporosis, cancer, or other conditions.
During a vertebroplasty procedure:
- Preparation: The patient is positioned on the procedure table, usually lying on their stomach or back.
- Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is administered to numb the skin and tissues over the targeted area.
- Needle Placement: Using fluoroscopic guidance (real-time X-ray imaging), a needle is inserted through the skin and guided to the fractured vertebra.
- Cement Injection: Once the needle is in the correct position, a medical-grade cement called polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is injected into the fractured vertebra. The cement hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone.
- Monitoring: The procedure is monitored using fluoroscopy to ensure accurate cement placement.
- Recovery: After the procedure, the patient is monitored for a short period and then allowed to go home the same day.
Vertebroplasty is typically considered for patients with:
- Painful Vertebral Fractures: It is most commonly used to treat painful fractures caused by osteoporosis or cancer that have not responded well to conservative treatments.
- Spinal Tumors: Vertebroplasty can also be used to stabilize vertebrae weakened by tumors.
- Pain Relief: Vertebroplasty can provide rapid and significant pain relief by stabilizing the fractured vertebra.
- Improved Function: Pain reduction can lead to improved mobility and quality of life.
- Minimally Invasive: The procedure is performed through a small incision, resulting in less trauma to surrounding tissues and a shorter recovery time compared to open surgery.
- Suitable Candidates: The procedure is most effective for recent fractures (typically within a few months of the fracture) and in cases where the pain is clearly related to the fracture.
- Cement Leakage: In some cases, a small amount of cement may leak out of the vertebral body, which can cause discomfort. However, this is generally well-tolerated.
Patients typically experience pain relief shortly after the procedure, although it may take a few days for the full effect to be felt. Most patients can resume normal activities with caution, but heavy lifting and strenuous activities may need to be avoided for a period of time.
As with any medical procedure, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine if vertebroplasty is appropriate for your specific condition. A healthcare provider can assess your symptoms, perform necessary tests, and recommend the most suitable treatment approach.
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