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Vertebroplasty: Before Your Procedure

What is vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is done to relieve pain from compression fractures of the spine.

The doctor will make a small cut (incision) in your back and insert a needle. They'll use a type of X-ray, called fluoroscopy, to guide the needle into the fractured vertebra. When the needle is in place, the doctor injects a type of cement into the vertebra. The entire procedure can take 1 to 2 hours. The cement mixture will get hard in about half an hour.

You will likely go home the same day. You may take some pain medicine for a few days. Most people can go back to normal activities within a few weeks.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you prepare for the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Your doctor will do a physical exam and review your medical history. Tests may include blood tests, and imaging tests. These tests help you and your doctor decide if this treatment is right for you.
  • You may also meet with a radiologist (a doctor who does imaging tests, like x-rays, ultrasounds, and MRIs).
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Medicines you'll get during your procedure will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
  • You may be asked to have bloodwork done before your procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital

  • Bring a picture ID and your Alberta Health Care card.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your health care team. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb. Children may have a general anesthetic - special medicine to make them sleep more deeply.
  • The procedure will take about 1 to 2 hours.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter Q599 in the search box to learn more about "Vertebroplasty: Before Your Procedure".

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.