Percutaneous Vertebroplasty Patient Education

Pre-Procedure Patient Information

What is Percutaneous Vertebroplasty?

Percutaneous (through the skin) vertebroplasty is a procedure used to treat collapsed bones (compression fractures) of the spine. Spine (vertebral) fractures can be painful and limit movement. Percutaneous vertebroplasty stabilizes the fracture by injecting bone cement into the collapsed bone. This restores the vertebra and helps prevent further collapse.

What conditions should I make sure my doctor is aware of?:

  • Any drug/food allergies
  • Any blood thinning medications (anticoagulants) that you are taking
  • Any medical conditions you have
  • If you have an active infection
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant
  • Any problems you or your family members have had with anesthetic medications

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, as with any procedure, complications can occur. Possible complications include:

  • Bone cement leakage
  • Nerve damage
  • Infection
  • Need for another surgery
  • Paralysis (very rare). Some people are at higher risk than others for this complication to occur. Your particular risks should be discussed with your health care provider.

About the Procedure

Before the procedure:

  • Your health care provider may want you to have blood tests. These tests can help tell how well your kidneys and liver are working. They can also show how well your blood clots.
  • Do not eat or drink within eight hours of your appointment.
  • If you have diabetes and use insulin, may need to adjust the dosage of insulin the day of the procedure. Your primary care doctor can help you with this adjustment.
  • If you are on blood thinning medications, you may need to stop them prior to the procedure. Check with your primary care doctor about when it is safe to stop blood-thinning medicine.
  • Do not discontinue any medication without first consulting with your primary care or referring physician.
  • Do not take new dietary supplements or medicines during the week before your procedure unless your health care provider approves them.
  • Plan to have someone take you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours after you leave the hospital. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after the procedure.

The day of the procedure:

  • Make sure you shower on the day of your procedure, washing the anticipated procedure site with soap and water.
  • If you were told to take a medication or to continue taking a medication on the day of the procedure, take the medication with a small sip of water.
  • Please arrive and register at admissions in the lobby of the hospital at your scheduled time.
  • You will be escorted to the prep area, where you will be connected to a blood pressure machine that will take your blood pressure and your heart rate. You will also have electrocardiogram (ECG) leads placed on your chest to allow us to monitor your heart during the procedure.
  • A nurse will insert an IV into your arm. During the procedure, this IV may be used to give you medications. These medications may include medicine to help you relax and help reduce pain. The nurse will also review your medical history and medications, listen to your heart and lungs and make sure you have followed all your pre-procedure instructions.
  • The Radiologist will obtain your consent for the procedure. The Radiologist will explain the procedure including possible complications and side effects. They will also answer any questions you may have.

During the procedure:

You will be awake during the procedure. You may be given medication through your IV to help you relax and to reduce pain. Your will lie face down for the procedure. Let the staff know if the position is not comfortable. The site of the vertebroplasty will be cleansed with a special antiseptic solution. Sterile drapes will be placed. The doctor will inject a small amount of local anesthetic through a very small needle in the skin right above the fractured vertebra. It feels like a pinch and then a slight burning as the local anesthetic starts numbing the skin.

A small cut (incision) is then made in that same area. A hollow needle is inserted through the incision. An x-ray machine (fluoroscope) is used to guide the needle to the fractured vertebrae. Bone cement is put through the hollow needle into the fractured vertebra. It hardens in about 20 minutes. The hollow needle is then removed. Your skin will be cleansed and a bandage will be applied.

After the procedure:

  • You will stay in the recovery area for observation for a minimum of two hours.
  • You will need to lie flat for one hour, and can slowly sit up over the next hour.
  • You will be asked about your pain.
  • After two hours, you will be checked to make sure you can get out of bed and walk at your baseline.
  • Some people find that pain relief is immediate. Others may notice pain going away within 2 days of the procedure.
  • The nurses will review your discharge instructions with you.
  • You will then be discharged home. Someone must drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours.

Can I resume normal activities?

  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Do not bend your back or lift anything that is heavier than 10 lb until your doctor tells you it is safe to do so.

What do I do for follow up visits?

Please make a follow up appointment with your ordering physician for follow up care.

Contact Information:

Contact your ordering physician for any questions or concerns to include:

  • Procedure site problems to include:
    • Redness, swelling, or pain
    • Fluid or small amount of blood
    • Pus or a bad smell
  • You have a fever that does not get better with medicine.
  • You feel like you may vomit (nauseous) or you vomit.
  • Your skin becomes itchy or you develop a rash or hives.
  • Your back pain does not get better.

Get help right away if:

  • You have very bad back pain that comes on all of a sudden.
  • You cannot control when you pee or poop (bowel movement).
  • You have any of these symptoms in your legs that happen all of a sudden:
    • Tingling or loss of feeling (numbness).
    • Pain that shoots down the legs.
  • You have chest pain.
  • You are short of breath or have trouble breathing.
  • You feel dizzy or you faint.
  • Your vision changes or you cannot talk as you normally do.

These symptoms may be an emergency. Get help right away. Call 911.

  • Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away.
  • Do not drive yourself to the hospital.