What Is Vertebroplasty And How It’s Done?
Spine and back injuries are very painful and they can affect mobility to a great extent. This is why people tend to consider vertebroplasty as a route of treatment to get better at walking and doing normal things again. Here is everything you need to know about it before your appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.
Vertebroplasty is a procedure done on patients who suffer from fractures in the spine. Whether you’ve injured your back badly or some part of the spine is broken, it’s going to cause a bit of a gap between the vertebrae. This defect can cause immobility and you won’t be able to walk properly because your back will hurt a lot, even if you move it the slightest bit. A vertebroplasty is a procedure in which a special medical-grade cement or binding agent is injected into your spine.
The purpose of this cement is to fuse the fracture together and to fill in any fissures the injury might have caused. Think of it as cementing the bone back together, so that your mobility can be restored and you can resume normal life activities without any hindrance.
A vertebroplasty is a less invasive procedure as compared to conventional surgeries that don’t even promise relief or results. Not to mention, surgeries on the back have a low success rate, and a lot of the time, older people or people with compromised health and other underlying issues, can’t get cleared for anesthesia and they’re left to make different lifestyle changes to deal with the pain and that can be majorly off-putting. However, vertebroplasty isn’t something you can opt for blindly.
Your doctor will need to have a look at your injuries and the extent of the fractures to ensure that the process actually helps in healing the back, instead of being a waste of time, money, and effort. Vertebroplasty can be opted for relieving back pain and injuries if traditional things like exercise, physical therapy, pain medications, and hot and cold compressions don’t work on the excruciating pain.
Why Is Vertebroplasty Done?
Vertebroplasty is done, especially on people who have compressed spines and fractures associated with compression. These fractures are common to occur in people who suffer from osteoporosis, weak bones, or a bone disorder where deterioration is prevalent.
Your spine consists of small segments of bones, collectively called vertebrae and these make up the vertebral column. There are small spaces between each vertebra and if there is any injury or compression on the spine, then it can cause the vertebral column to shrink. This can lead to a lot of pain and you can’t seem to lift anything up, with the support of your back. This is the main gist of a compression fracture.
Wakening Of Bones Due To Cancer
Cancers are also the main reason for the weakening of bones and any small action like twisting, rolling and even bending can pose a risk of breaking the bone. Apart from back, other bones in the body become prone to fractures. Knees are commonly affected by it so you should consult a knee injury doctor Woodbridge in this case.
Vertebroplasty is done when you feel pain, but the bone isn’t at the point of breaking. If you’ve recently gotten an x-ray done, for your back, and it shows fractures and small cracks because of any injury or bone disorder, then a vertebroplasty will be recommended to get rid of the pain and to get your back in shape. Vertebroplasty is not an option to go for if your spine is broken.
How Is Vertebroplasty Done?
Now that you know what vertebroplasty is and why it’s done, here is what you can expect from the surgery.
- Before the surgery begins, your doctor needs to locate the compression fracture. This is a very important step because this is the exact spot where the procedure will take place and the doctor needs to pinpoint exactly where the binding agent needs to be injected to ensure proper cementation of the bone. So, an X-ray or an MRI scan might be done, followed by a CT scan.
- Before the procedure, you need to disclose all of the prescription medication that you’re taking. Whether it’s blood thinning medication, beta-blockers, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, etc., you need to tell your doctor everything.
- At the time of the surgery, the doctor will give you a sleeping aid, to help you relax and sleep through the vertebroplasty. This procedure can be done without general anesthesia, but if you’re apprehensive, then you can ask the doctor to administer an anesthetic so that you can calm your nerves.
- The cement injection is guided to the fracture with an x-ray-guided needle so that the contents of the injection are released in the right place.
- As your fractures are getting filled, the doctor will double-check to make sure that every fissure is filled to the brim and, if there are more fissures that need to be filled, the whole process can be repeated one more time.
- Lastly, after all of the fractures have been filled, the doctor will patch you up, and then the anesthesia is slowly worn off, and you will gain consciousness in a while.
Risks Of Vertebroplasty
There aren’t any major risks associated with vertebroplasty, but there are certain accidents that can happen and it’s the duty of your doctor to list off all of the things that could happen during surgery. Here are some risks and things that might feel unpleasant during and after the surgery.
Problems Due To Anesthesia
The anesthesia can cause you to become nauseous and you will feel extremely lightheaded as soon as it starts to wear off. Your heart rate might get faster, you might feel tingles in your extremities and you might not feel hungry afterwards for some time. This is just the effects of the anesthesia on your body and as soon as it’s out of your system, you’ll feel a lot better in no time.
Blood Thinning Medication
If you are on any blood thinning medication, then blood clots and hemorrhages are common. It can occur during the cement injection and this is a huge hurdle that can cause the cement insertion to be faulty. This is why your doctor will probably have a good look at the surrounding area before the cement is injected.
The Injected Cement Can leak
Sometimes, cement leaks can occur and it can start to set in places where it shouldn’t have spilled in the first place. This can happen because of improper identification of a fracture in your back and this can be a full-on medical emergency.
Infections are also a huge risk in any type of procedure in which something is being injected from the outside. Your body can develop sepsis and this can be identified by a sudden fever, shivering, and hot and cold flashes, especially right after the surgery.
Complications Due To A Tumor
If there is a tumor or abnormal growth near or on the spine, then it can make the healing process complicated. The bulging of the tumor or malignant growth can cause the cement to not sit in place and that can alter the entire procedure. So, vertebroplasty, in this case, proceeds with caution.
Vertebroplasty is not for everyone, which is why it’s important to discuss it with your back pain specialist Woodbridge before you go forward with any treatment, especially related to your back and spine.