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What are these procedures?

These are complex procedures which are designed to treat collapse of the vertebral bodies of the spine, termed vertebral compression fractures (VCF), which can be caused by osteoporosis or by tumour. If the collapse is acute, painful and does not respond to medical treatment then you may be a candidate for a procedure using these techniques, the principal purpose of which is pain relief achieved by stabilising the fracture with bone cement. In kyphoplasty some vertebral height may be restored as well.

Another advantage is that treatment of one collapse reduces the likelihood of a second one occurring at an adjacent level.


Preparing for these procedures

As you will be sedated you should not eat or drink for six hours before the procedure. You will also need to stop taking Aspirin or using any blood thinning drugs prior. You should seek medical advice if you are on any of these types of drugs well before the date of your procedure.


What do these procedures entail?

Both procedures are undertaken with intravenous sedation. Using x ray control, purpose designed needles are introduced into the collapsed vertebra. Following this liquid bone cement is injected to stabilize the VCF. The cement sets solid within a few minutes.


What happens after these tests?

You will need a period of observation in hospital for a few hours. If this is satisfactory you will be allowed home.


Do they hurt?

Both procedures are undertaken with intravenous sedation usually with an anaesthetist in attendance to supervise this.


Are there any risks involved?

Both procedures are complex. The risks of complications are low but can be potentially serious. As the procedure involves injection of liquid near spinal nerves and the spinal cord, complications are usually related to nerve damage causing pain and paralysis. Passage of the cement into the venous system can lead to passage of the cement to the lungs.



If you have any queries regarding the contents of this leaflet please contact the Appointments office (St. Peter’s Hospital) – telephone 01932 723054.


You can download this information in PDF by clicking here.

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