Osteoarthritis can bring a host of other problems including broken bones and fractures. When a vertebra is broken, this is called a vertebral compression. These fractures can cause severe pain, deformity and height loss.
Treatment options used to be limited to medication, bed rest or invasive spinal surgery. Thankfully, there have been advances in spinal surgery that now provides other options including a vertebroplasty.
Vertebroplasties are a minimally invasive procedure that does not require surgery. It is performed by inserting a special bone needle into the back through the use of guided x-rays. An orthopedic cement, known as PMMA, is inserted through the needle into the vertebrae. PMMA is mixed with antibiotics to lower the risk of infection and with barium or tantalum so that it can be spotted on an x-ray. When inside the vertebrae, the cement hardens quickly.
This procedure strengthens the broken vertebrae. Vertebroplasties only take a few hours and the patient usually goes home the same day.
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