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Frequently Asked Questions


Up The Procedure Frequently Asked ?'s
What Is The Post Procedure Care?
Patients usually recover after a few hours and can go home the same day, provided they have adequate supervision.  Hospitalization is generally not required, unless the patient requires additional monitoring after the procedure.  All patients are given detailed discharge instructions and are seen in our office within 7-14 days following the procedure to answer questions and assess outcome.  Referring or primary care physicians can provide routine follow-up care.  To hasten recovery and regain levels of activity, patients may benefit from physical therapy or short-term back bracing.

Who Performs the Procedure?
All physicans who perform the vertebroplasty procedure are subspecialty trained radiologists in Interventional Radiology or Neuroradiology.  These physicians are experts in minimally invasive image-guided therapies for patients with painful disorders of the joints and spine.  State of the art equipment includes digital fluoroscopy and the latest advancements in CT and MRI.  We pride ourselves on responsiveness to patient inquiries.  We work closely with primary care physicians and specialists to provide a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to the evaluation and treatment of patients.

What Are the Results of Vertebroplasty?
Vertebroplasty usually provides substantial pain relief and increased mobility within 48 hours.  Approximately 75-90% of patients will return to their previous activity levels and experience marked decrease in their doses of pain medications.  Vertebroplasty cannot correct curvature of the spine caused by osteoporosis, but may help to prevent worsening curvature.  The procedure treats only fractured vertebra.  It does not prevent future compression fractures at other levels.

What Are the Risks of Vertebroplasty
Vertebroplasty is minimally invasive (non-surgical) and safe in most cases.  Because complications may occur in 1% of patients, the procedure should be performed only if back pain significantly impairs mobility and quality of life.  Risks include bleeding, infection and worsening of pain.  In severely osteoporotic patients, rib or pedicle fracture can occur.  Since the cement is injected as a liquid, it can leak out of the vertebral body into surrounding tissues and veins.  In symptomatic patients, surgery might be required to remove the leaked cement.

Who Is Eligible for Vertebroplasty?
Candidates for the procedure include men and women who have chronic back pain, and debilitation due to vertebral collapse.  Patients often have limited mobility and cannot perform routine daily activities.  Typically, conservative treatments (bed rest, back brace, oral pain medications) have already failed.  Most patients are elderly and osteoporotic, but younger patients with metabolic disorders or long-term steroid therapy may also benefit from vertebroplasty.  The procedure can palliate symptoms in some patients with vertebral metastases from cancer.
How fast does the procedure work?
Some patients have had complete relief of back pain within the first hour after the procedure.  Other patients have some relief, and continue to improve over the course of 1 week.


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