Vertebroplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure to treat the pain of a fractured spinal vertebra that hasn’t healed. By injecting a special type of cement into the fracture, it is possible to stabilise the fragments of vertebra, relieving pain and helping the patient to avoid developing a stooped posture.
You might need a vertebroplasty if you have a fractured vertebra that has not healed as expected. Normally a fractured vertebra is very painful in the first few days and weeks but the pain gradually subsides after 4-6 weeks.
In up to a third of patients, however, normal healing doesn’t occur and severe pain may persist for years or even become permanent. The reasons for this are unclear but if this is the case, you might be suitable for a vertebroplasty.
Our radiologists normally carry out vertebroplasty in our dedicated X-ray suite under sedation. This means you will be relaxed and sleepy but still awake. However, in some cases, it can be performed under general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep throughout.
Once you are comfortable we use a local anaesthetic to numb the area. As a result you shouldn’t feel any pain. Then a long needle is inserted into the fractured part of your vertebra.
After that we use X-ray to guide the needle and ensure it is correctly located. Once we can see it is in precisely the right position, your radiologist will inject special bone cement. The cement sets within a few minutes, holding the fragments of vertebra in place. As a result the whole procedure normally takes less than an hour.
Our team will observe you closely for two hours afterwards. Following this assessment we will ask you to make some gentle movements. This will show us that you are able to mobilise. Once we are sure that you are recovering as expected, you will be allowed to go home.
Vertebroplasty is a generally as a safe and effective procedure. In fact, around three quarters of patients (75%) derive significant benefits in terms of reduced pain. In addition they also have improved stability and posture. However, for the remaining 25%, a facet joint injection may help to relieve symptoms.
Sometimes a delayed diagnosis of vertebral fracture may result in delays in referring patients for vertebroplasty. Unfortunately, in this case, the fracture may have healed which means they are no longer suitable for vertebroplasty. However, facet joint injections may be effective in this case.
The procedure has a low level of risk and complications are extremely unlikely. Rarely patients experience cement leakage which results in pressure on the adjacent nerves or spinal cord, bleeding or infection.
However, patients with osteoporosis or myeloma are at risk of developing new fractures following vertebroplasty so it is important that these conditions are adequately treated to strengthen the adjacent vertebrae before the procedure.
Why choose Berkshire Imaging?
We are one of the largest private radiology groups in Berkshire, providing imaging for patients across the county. We are leaders in medical imaging and image guided treatments. As a result we use cutting edge technologies to diagnose and treat many different and often complex conditions.
When you are concerned about your health, you want a doctor to see and treat you as quickly as possible. With Berkshire Imaging you will receive a prompt and accurate diagnosis. This can help ensure better outcomes if you need treatment or put your mind at ease if you don’t.
Where Are You Based?
We provide imaging for patients right across Berkshire. From Newbury and Thatcham in the West along the M4 corridor to Reading, Bracknell and Wokingham and as far as Maidenhead and Slough, we have helped hundreds of patients in Berkshire. Our strong relationships with all the major private hospitals across Berkshire enable us to offer rapid access to private scans in several locations.
From the time of my accident on the ice I do not believe my pain level went below 8 (out of 10) perhaps even increased at times, but since having the procedure I can honestly say my pain levels are now 1-2 out of 10 which in my view is pretty marvellous and I would recommend this procedure to all who suffer a vertebrae trauma. Well done Dr Speirs and Team.