Notice: Users may be experiencing issues with displaying some pages on stanfordhealthcare.org. We are working closely with our technical teams to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
Since it is not possible to immobilize the vertebra completely, patients can have severe pain with any patient movement or secondary to nerve compression. Until the late 1980s, the only way that this problem was treated was with bed rest, narcotic medication and in some cases back bracing.
Now we are able to offer a procedure called percutaneous vertebroplasty. This procedure is done with high tech X-ray equipment to provide optimal visualization. The physician then inserts a small needle directly into the vertebral body that is compressed. Once needle placement has been confirmed, Polymethylmethacrylate, a type of bone cement, is injected. This essentially strengthens the bone from within.
This procedure has been very effective in decreasing pain, decreasing medication usage, and increasing patient mobility, and is also very safe.
CT scan of a patient with a painful compression fracture of the lumber spine. Patient had failed treatment with pain medicine and bed rest.
Vertebroplasty post treatment
CT scan after vertebroplasty treatment shows bone cement stabilizing the fracture. Patient experienced complete pain relief several hours after treatment.