What Is Vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive surgery used to treat back pain. The interventional radiologist uses image guidance to inject medical cement into vertebral fractures, also known as bone breaks. This treatment can help reduce or eliminate pain in people with back pain lasting longer than six weeks due to vertebral body fracture or disc herniation.

How to Prepare for Vertebroplasty

  • Consultation - Anyone undergoing vertebroplasty must be evaluated by our staff prior to the surgery. Sometimes, a phone call works as your consultation, but typically you will be seen in person.
  • Images - Please bring any imaging studies not performed at Mass General Imaging to your consultation appointment, including plain radiographs and MRI images
  • Contrast - Vertebroplasty uses contrast injected through an IV. Contrast helps the interventional radiologists confirm proper placement of the medical cement using fluoroscopy, or image guidance. The benefits of using contrast typically outweigh any potential risk. We carefully asses your risk before giving you contrast.
  • Risks - A small amount of the medical cement can leak out of the bone fracture. This does not usually cause a serious problem. Other complications include infection, bleeding, increased back pain and neurological symptoms such as numbness or tingling.

What to Expect After Vertebroplasty

Patients usually recover after a few hours and can go home under the supervision of someone else if the trip is short. Otherwise, you should plan on staying overnight in the area.

You may experience dull aching at the needle puncture site during the first 24 hours following the procedure. You should call us if you develop severe or increasing chest or back pain, fever or neurological symptoms.

We call patients at home about 48 hours after vertebroplasty and again in seven days. You will receive follow-up care from your referring or primary care physicians.