Approximately 700,000 vertebral, or spinal bone, fractures occur each year - usually in women over the age of 60. Researchers estimate that at least 25 percent of women and a somewhat smaller percentage of men over the age of 50 will suffer one or more spinal fractures. Of particular concern are spinal fractures caused by a progressive weakening of the bone - a condition called osteoporosis. The pain and loss of movement that often accompany bone fractures of the spine are perhaps the most feared and debilitating side effects of osteoporosis. For many people with osteoporosis, a spinal fracture means severely limited activity, constant pain and a serious reduction in the quality of their lives.
Fractures of the vertebrae have traditionally been much more difficult to manage than broken bones in the hip, wrist or elsewhere. These broken bones can often be successfully treated with surgery. But because surgery on the spine is extremely difficult and risky, it has typically not been used to treat vertebral fractures associated with osteoporosis except as a last resort. Today, however, there are safe, non-surgical interventional radiology treatments called vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty that have been shown to be extremely effective in reducing or eliminating the pain caused by spinal fractures.
Vertebroplasty is a pain treatment for vertebral compression fractures that fail to respond to conventional medical therapy, such as minimal or no pain relief with analgesics or narcotic doses that are intolerable. Vertebroplasty, a non-surgical treatment performed using imaging guidance by interventional radiologists, stabilizes the collapsed vertebra with the injection of medical-grade bone cement into the spine. This improves pain, and can prevent further collapse of the vertebra, thereby preventing the height loss and spine curvature commonly seen as a result of osteoporosis. Vertebroplasty dramatically improves back pain within hours of the procedure, provides long-term pain relief and has a low complication rate as demonstrated in multiple studies.
Kyphoplasty is a procedure that involves inserting a small balloon at the point where the vertebra has collapsed. With a hollow instrument, a narrow pathway is made into the fractured bone. A small orthopaedic balloon is guided through the instrument into the vertebra. The incision site is approximately one cm in length. Next, the balloon is carefully inflated in an attempt to raise the collapsed vertebra and return it to its normal position. Once the vertebra is in the correct position, the balloon is deflated and removed. This process creates a void (space) within the vertebral body. The void functions as a "container" for the bone cement. The void is filled with bone cement to stabilize the fracture. The cement forms an internal cast that holds the vertebra in place. Generally, the procedure is done on both sides of the vertebra.
To make an appointment, call the Interventional Institute at Holy Name Medical Center:
- Phone: 201-833-7268
- Fax: 201-643-3077