Non-surgical Relief of Vertebral Compression Fractures (VCF)
Vertebroplasty is rapidly becoming the standard of care for vertebra fractures caused by osteoporosis. This non-surgical procedure has been relieving back pain in the United States since 1994.
Vertebra fractures can cause long term debilitating pain. Patients who have vertebroplasty are frequently amazed at its effectiveness and the speed of recovery. Many with this vertebral fractures have not been given any solutions for this problem, other than pain medications.
How it works
Rather than use traditional surgery, the procedure is performed using an image guided hollow needle. The needle is inserted through a small nick in the skin and delivers medical grade cement to the fractured vertebra. The cement hardens in about 20 minutes. This stabilizes the bone, preventing further collapse and prevents the vertebral bone’s from rubbing together. Some patients experience immediate pain relief, in others it is usually reduced or eliminated within 2 days. About 75% regain lost mobility.
Who Performs the Procedure?
Our interventional radiologists perform this procedure. Interventional radiologists are physicians with an additional 5 - 7 years of specialized training to perform interventional procedures like vertebroplasty. Their specialty revolves around using imaging to guide them in performing procedures that eliminate the need for invasive surgeries.
Is Vertebroplasty Right for You?
You may be a candidate for vertebroplasty if you have debilitating pain cause by a compression fracture. Some patients may not be able to tolerate this procedure as they will need to lie face down for an hour or more. This can lead to broken rib bones in the case of patients with soft and/or porous bones. If you have persistent spinal pain, it’s important to see an interventional radiologist. If the untreated vertebra heals in a flattened wedge the compression fracture cannot be treated as effectively.
How to Get Help
Patients may be referred to us from any site. To see one of our doctors and determine if you are a candidate for vertebroplasty, you will need a referral from your physician. Advanced Radiology Services helps streamline vertebroplasty by coordinating with your primary care provider and the appropriate treatment location. Your physician may contact us at:
Grand Rapids, Lakeshore and Lansing area: 616.459.7225
Kalamazoo area: 269.341.6380, press #1
A Physician’s Perspective:
Vertebroplasty is one of the most professionally satisfying procedures we perform due to such a high percentage of our patients experiencing prompt and dramatic pain relief. Our patient satisfaction rate for significant pain reduction is around 90%.
Advantages of vertebroplasty include:
- Typically only one night stay in the hospital
- No surgery
- No stitches
- No general anesthesia
- Solves the fundamental problem causing pain by replacing lost tissue in weak bones
- Prevents further vertebral collapse, height loss and spine curvature
- Rapid, dramatic recovery within hours
- Typically eliminates the need for pain relievers
Most often, compression fractures are a result of osteoporosis in the elderly. Significant trauma can also cause the fracture. Symptoms can range from chronic or severe pain to decreased lung function.
We have performed over 2,000 vertebroplasty’s. Before treatment many of our patients were in severe, unrelenting pain that had led them to question if they could go on. Many have been on strong pain medications which were creating undesired side effects. Afterwards, many patients become pain free with about 75% of patients becoming more active.
This fluoroscopy image shows a spine that has been repaired with vertebroplasty.
Jeffrey S. Van Erp