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What is a Vertebral Fracture?

A vertebral compression fracture is an injury to one of the “back bones” making up the spine resulting in breakage and collapse of the bone structure.

They may be caused by osteoporosis, trauma or an abnormality within the actual bone due to malignant and benign conditions.

Spine Issues by the Numbers

Around 700,000 vertebral fractures occur each year resulting in 115,000 hospitalizations.

There is a 10-25% lifetime risk of having a vertebral compression fracture.

Up to 31% of Patients

With Compression Fractures experience chronic pain

25% of People

With Cancer in the spine may develop a fracture

Up to 20% of Males

With Osteoporosis may develop a fracture

Up to 50% of Females

With Osteoporosis may develop a fracture

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What are the symptoms?

Vertebral fractures are often present without symptoms, occurring slowly over time due to osteoporosis. More sudden fracture may result in significant pain with varying symptoms, including pain in the middle of your back, pain radiating to the sides and muscle spasm. This can result in difficulty walking, bearing weight or standing. Over time the spine can become bowed or hunched due to fractures at multiple levels, a condition called kyphosis. Your Interventional Radiologist will perform a thorough clinical and physical assessment, as well as evaluate your imaging to determine the etiology of your symptoms.

Treatments for Vertebral Fractures

Treatment for vertebral fractures depends on how recent the fracture is, the duration of discomfort, the type of fracture and the degree of disability.

Options for short-term treatment include pain control and physical therapy. Long-term emphasis is on treating underlying conditions such as osteoporosis.

In cases of pain that is not well controlled despite medication, severe debilitation, or in patients who cannot receive or tolerate pain medications, vertebral augmentation may be indicated. Vertebral augmentation includes treatments like Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty.

Your Interventional Radiologist in conjunction with your primary care doctor will assist in guiding you through the appropriate route of management.

Kyphoplasty / Vertebroplasty Benefits

Your physician may recommend Kyphoplasty if you have suffered a fracture of the vertebrae and have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or a tumor that caused the vertebral compression fracture (VCF) and you are not getting relief from less invasive treatment options. Following your procedure you may expect:

Walking within 24 Hours

At Least 50% Reduction in Pain

Significant Improvement in Quality of Life

Reduced Risk of Adjacent Fractures

Compared to only medical therapy

Reduction in Pain Medication and Opioid Use

Kyphoplasty Frequently Asked Questions

During this procedure, a balloon is inserted through a trocar (hollow needle) into the vertebra and inflated to create an opening. The balloon is removed and a special cement mixture is injected into the opening providing stability for vertebrae that have become porous, broken or compressed.

You will be given detailed instructions by our staff before your procedure. In general, do not eat, drink or smoke anything after midnight the night before your procedure. This includes breath mints, gum and tobacco. Patients should notify staff if they are diabetic, taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) or allergic to anesthesia. Be sure to bring your insurance card, photo ID, list of current medications (dose and frequency) and any diagnostic testing results.

Before the exam, your physician will order several tests including imaging tests, blood tests and X-rays. During the exam, you will lie facedown on a table. You will be connected to monitors that will track your vitals during the procedure. You will receive a sedative or anesthesia. In addition, you may be given antibiotics to prevent infection, as well as anti-nausea and pain medications. The area where the needle will be inserted will be sterilized and numbed. A small incision is then made where the tube is inserted and passed into the fractured area using an imaging device to guide it to the exact vertebra. Once at the site, the balloon is inflated to create an opening for the cement. The balloon is then removed, and special orthopedic cement is injected into the opening. Once the opening is filled, all tubes are removed, pressure is applied to the incision area and it is covered with a bandage.

You will feel a slight sting when the needles are inserted for the IV line and the anesthesia. If you receive sedation, you will feel relaxed and sleepy and may or may not be partially awake during the procedure. You may feel some pressure when the needle is inserted, but no serious pain.

You will be at bedrest for two hours after the procedure. Be sure to arrange a ride home from the procedure if you live close by. Otherwise, it is recommended that you have someone drive you to a nearby hotel so that you do not have to sit in the car for a long period of time immediately following the procedure. You may feel mild pain. This usually goes away after a few days. In fact, many patients feel relief from their VCF pain within two days—and some immediately.

Outpatient Procedures at a Center Designed for Your Comfort and Safety

The Fairfax Vascular Center was built with the patient in mind, designed to make your procedure as easy and as comfortable as possible. When you come to our state-of-the-art facility, you’ll find something remarkable:

  • Advanced equipment often only found in the area’s top hospitals
  • The region’s leading vein and vascular specialists – our doctors also work at the area’s top hospitals.
  • one on one consultation will be preformed by one of our skilled providers and a personalized treatment plan will be created. 
  • Convenient and free parking right next to the center in a covered parking garage or parking lot

The highest-quality of care with you at the center.

Learn more about the center

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Why A Minimally Invasive Procedure May Be Your Best Choice

Minimally Invasive treatment options usually allow you to go home the same day with a faster recover time and usually do not require hospitalization.

Schedule a consultation to see how our physicians and treatments can help you.