What is a vertebral compression fracture?
A vertebral compression fracture is a break in one or more of the bones (vertebrae) in the spine which causes the bone to collapse. Vertebral compression fractures are more common than hip fractures, and can occur after a fall or other trauma. Sometimes they occur after minimal trauma or simply with a change in body position. They are especially common in patients with osteoporosis or demineralized/weak bones. The most common symptoms of a compression fracture is abrupt onset of back pain, which can persist for weeks or months. The pain may be severe enough that patients are unable to walk or care for themselves. Vertebral fractures can be diagnosed by an interventional radiologist with the use of imaging such as an MRI or Bone Scan.
There are 2 minimally invasive options available to treat compression fractures – kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty. Both are highly effective in reducing/eliminating the pain caused by the compression fracture, and help patients to recover faster and more completely. While most compression fractures will heal by themselves without treatment, the unaided healing process may be prolonged and painful, and patients may not fully recover to their prior functional status.
Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat a compression fracture of the spine. Kyphoplasty is performed by introducing a needle/cannula into the fractured vertebra under imaging guidance. A balloon is then introduced into the collapsed vertebra and inflated to help re-expand the collapsed vertebrae, and creating a cavity where bone cement (polymethylmethacrylate) is then injected. As the cement hardens, the fracture is stabilized.
Vertebroplasty is similar to Kyphoplasty and is performed to stabilize spinal compression fractures. During Vertebroplasty, a needle is inserted into the fractured vertebra under imaging guidance. Bone cement (polymethylmethacrylate) is then injected through the needle into the center of the vertebra. As the cement hardens, the fracture is stabilized.
An interventional radiologist is a board-certified physician who is specially-trained to perform minimally invasive treatments under imaging guidance with less pain, less risk, and less recovery time than traditional surgery.