What will happen?
Hospital admission is not a prerogative for the procedure but as everybody is different, you may need to stay in hospital and the length of hospitalization may vary.
You will arrive in the Interventional Radiology Suite where the interventional radiologist (a doctor specially trained to perform this procedure) and radiographer will explain the procedure and answer your questions. The study usually takes about 60 minutes but may take longer if more than one bone is crushed. After completion, you will be monitored for 2 hours for possible complications.
Do I need any test before the procedure?
You will be asked to have following blood tests:
PI/FIT/Platelets — to check if your blood clots normally and to assess the risk of post procedural bleeding.
You will need limited MRI study of your back, which will look for the presence of edema in the crushed bone and confirm that you will benefit from the intervention.
The vertebroplasty procedure
You will have a drip placed in the arm for vascular access. Mild sedation might be required. You will be lying on your stomach and a small incision will be made on your back under local anesthesia and sterile conditions. The radiologist will use X-rays to determine the best angle to place the needle into the fractured vertebra. The doctor may decide that in your particular case, CT guidance will allow more accurate control for the needle positioning.
The cement will be placed into the desired place under direct control of X-rays.
After the completion you will be lying flat on your back for one hour and will be allowed to sit for the next hour. If no complications occur, you will be discharged.
What will I feel? Does it hurt?
You will feel a bee sting when the doctor numbs the skin. You may feel some pressure and discomfort when the needle is put in place. We may need to give you extra medication to help you relax and to reduce your pain.
Most patients feel significant relief of the pain immediately, but sometimes it may take a few days to a month for you to become symptom free. In the latter case you will still need some medication for a week or two to control the pain.
What are the risks?
Bleeding at the puncture site happens seldom and is usually minimal.
Infection can be expected with prolonged procedure. We may need to give you antibiotics to prevent it.
The possibility of cement leak happens seldom and is minimized by careful monitoring of its administration. It usually does not cause serious problem unless the significant amount of cement moves towards spinal canal.
When will I get my results?
The radiologist will be able to talk to you after the procedure and advise if the intervention was a technical success.
When will I resume my normal activities?
You should relax for the rest of the day but if no complications occur, you will be able to get back to your normal life the next day.