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What is a Vertebroplasty?
A vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that is used to correct vertebral compression fractures or spinal instability from osteoporosis, spinal injuries, or tumors.
As we age, the bones in our body can become damaged or frail. These degenerative changes are often the product of normal wear and tear, sudden injury, or disease. One fairly common condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle is osteoporosis. Witnessed mostly in adults who are over age 60, osteoporosis causes our vertebrae to lose bone mineral density through a delayed ability to regenerate bony tissue. As our bones are constantly repairing themselves, osteoporosis leads an imbalance in the ratio of bone loss (reabsorption) to bone production. This leaves bones with a porous, honeycomb-like appearance. Weak bones can crack or break easily, generating vertebral compression fractures. For someone dealing with osteoporosis, even a simple sneeze can cause a weakened bone to instantaneously fracture.
Osteoporosis, however, is not the sole cause of spinal compression fractures; there are several other conditions that can lead to this same outcome. Individuals suffering from metastatic tumors (cancer spread from another region of the body to the spine), multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow), and certain vascular tumors, may also suffer vertebral compression fractures.
The symptoms of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) can be especially debilitating. VCFs can lead to localized pain near the site of fracture, decreased height of the spine, limited mobility, and increased pain during movement. Furthermore, if multiple vertebrae suffer fracture, it can even lead to the development of kyphosis, or a pronounced and abnormal arching of the upper back. Individuals with severe osteoporosis may require a vertebroplasty to correct the structural instability of a weakened spine.
During a minimally invasive vertebroplasty, your surgeon will use a large needle to enter through the posterior of the torso. Using continuous X-ray imaging, your surgeon will be able to visualize the internal movements of the needle, carefully inserting the needle into the location of the fracture. A fast-drying, cement-like substance will be injected into the fracture, with care being given to avoid cement seepage into any adjacent tissues. The needle will then be slowly removed and the cement will be allowed to dry. The surgical cement typically takes 10 minutes to dry, after which the individual will be monitored by medical professionals for a short period of time to watch for any adverse side effects.
Dr. Frazier at NYC Spine has over 20 years of practical experience helping people to secure relief from the excruciating pain of compression fractures. Well-versed in state-of-the-art techniques, Dr. Frazier will offer a thorough diagnosis of your condition and a variety of treatment options for your recovery. If a vertebroplasty is what you need, you can rest assured that Dr. Frazier will perform your procedure with the utmost attention to detail.
Can a Vertebroplasty help me?
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What are the Benefits of a Vertebroplasty?
Minimally invasive techniques such as vertebroplasties and kyphoplasties offer excellent choices for those who need relief from vertebral compression fractures. Some of the benefits include:
- No Traditional Incision: Your surgeon will access the fractured vertebrae through the use of one or two needles instead of a traditional incision. Using x-ray imaging to enhance the procedure eliminates the need to cut through essential muscles and tissues that support the spine.
- Same Day Surgery: Your entire procedure can often be completed in 30 minutes to an hour per vertebra. Almost all individuals—except for those with allergic reactions or rare complications—will spend very little time in an outpatient facility, and return home after just a few hours.
- Short Recovery Time: Because there is little to no trauma to the body, and the cement dries within 10 -15 minutes, the amount of recovery time required is miniscule. Aside from a day of bed rest and minimal pain near the site of needle insertion, most people return to their everyday activities within 24 hours.
The benefits of a minimally invasive vertebroplasty are extensive, and Dr. Frazier is familiar with the firsthand advantages of this technique. If you are seeking relief from a painful fracture of your spine, our team at NYC Spine is here to offer our support.
How do I know if I need a Vertebroplasty?
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Do I Qualify for a Vertebroplasty?
For those who are suffering from one or multiple vertebral compression fractures, a minimally invasive vertebroplasty may be able to alleviate your pain by restoring the strength and stability of your spine. Although most individuals with spinal disorders will require 6-8 weeks of conservative treatment before surgery is pursued as an option, this procedure is best performed within a short time after the onset of the fracture. Prompt surgical treatment can prevent your spine from healing in an abnormal or painful position.
However, due to extenuating circumstances, a vertebroplasty may not be a desirable treatment for everyone. Individuals who are suffering from infection, bleeding disorders, radiculopathy (pinched nerves) that cause radiating pain in the limbs, extreme spinal instability, allergies to surgical materials, or fractures that are not causing any negative symptoms may not be eligible for this procedure. If you are unsure if you qualify, consult with a physician today to receive a comprehensive evaluation of your situation or take our “Confirm Candidacy” diagnostic tool to determine your eligibility.
Vertebral compression fractures can be extremely painful and produce lifelong disability. Our team at NYC Spine is fully prepared to support you through the treatment process. Contact us today to set up your initial appointment. No time is too soon to have a vertebral fracture addressed and Dr. Frazier and his team have the expertise required to ensure your comfortable and speedy recovery.
Am I a candidate for a Vertebroplasty?
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Dr. Frazier is a Harvard-trained, board certified orthopedic spine surgeon. He’s held an academic appointment at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York’s SUNY Downstate. Dr. Frazier is also a respected lecturer, accomplished researcher, published author on spine disorders and treatment, and a consultant for several international spine companies.
After completing his undergraduate education at Brown University, Dr. Frazier attended Harvard Medical School, where he graduated cum laude. He completed a Harvard internship based at the New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, MA, followed by a Harvard combined residency before becoming chief resident at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Education & Training
MD / Cum Laude
Harvard Medical School
Mass. General Hospital
Spinal Deformity Fellowship
Doctor’s Hospital (Miami, FL)