• Vertebroplasty (VP) is a procedure to fix your broken vertebrae. Your vertebrae are the bones in your back that are linked together to form your spine. Your vertebrae help your spine and body support your weight. Your spine surrounds your spinal cord that contains your nerves. Vertebroplasty is done to treat vertebral compression fractures. A vertebral compression fracture is a crack or break in one or more bones in your spine. When your vertebrae is broken, it may collapse and lose its height. Vertebral compression fractures are normally caused by osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones) and tumors (growths). You may get a vertebral compression fracture from an injury, such as a fall.

  • Vertebral compression fractures may be very painful. You may have changes in your mood and trouble doing your normal activities. The shape of your spine may change, and shorten your height. During VP, bone cement is used to fill the breaks in your vertebrae. Having VP may decrease your pain and make your vertebrae stronger. VP may help straighten your spine and increase your height. VP also may help increase your movement and ability to do your daily activities.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may have an allergic response to the anesthesia medicine or bone cement used during your procedure. An allergic response may include a skin rash, swelling, and trouble breathing. During surgery, your nerves and spinal cord may be damaged. Spinal cord damage may cause you to leak spinal fluid, and you may become paralyzed (unable to move). After surgery, you may have bruising, increased pain, and you may get an infection. You may get fractures of nearby vertebrae or other bones, such as your ribs. Cement may leak into your spinal cord, kidneys, and blood vessels. Cement leaks may travel into your lungs and brain which may be life-threatening.

  • You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot can break loose and travel to your lungs or brain. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. A blood clot in your brain can cause a stroke. These problems can be life-threatening.

  • If you do not have the vertebroplasty, your pain may continue to get worse. You may become very depressed and have problems with anxiety. You may have more trouble walking and doing the activities you enjoy. The less you move, the weaker you may become. Decreased movement also may cause blood clots to form in your blood vessels. The blood clots can travel to your heart and lungs, and you may die. Talk to caregiver if you have questions about your procedure or care.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

  • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

  • Medicines:

    • Antibiotics: You may be given antibiotics to help prevent an infection caused by germs called bacteria.

    • Sedative: This medicine is given to help you stay calm and relaxed.

  • Pre-op care: You will be taken to the room where your procedure will be done. You will lie on your stomach on a table or bed. You may have pillows under your hips and feet to help straighten your spine.

  • Anesthesia medicine: You may need the following:

    • General anesthesia: This is medicine that may be given in your IV or as a gas that you breathe. You may wear a face mask or have a tube placed in your mouth and throat. This tube is called an endotracheal tube or ET tube. Usually you are asleep before caregivers put the tube into your throat. The ET tube is usually removed before you wake up. You are completely asleep and free from pain during your procedure.

    • Local or monitored anesthesia: This is a shot of numbing medicine put into the skin where you will have your procedure. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure, but you should not have pain. With local anesthesia, you will be fully awake during the procedure. With monitored anesthesia care, you will also be given medicine through an IV. This medicine keeps you comfortable, relaxed, and drowsy during the procedure.

During your procedure:

  • Fluoroscopy (special x-ray) will be used to locate your broken vertebrae, and guide your caregiver during the procedure. Fluoroscopy is also used to watch the cement as it is being put into your vertebrae. A small incision (cut) may be made over your broken vertebrae where a needle will be inserted. Your caregiver also may use only the needle to reach your broken vertebrae. After inserting the needle, dye may be given through the needle to do a venography. Venography shows the veins around your vertebrae, and helps your caregiver plan where to inject the cement.

  • Cement is then injected into your vertebrae to fill the broken or cracked area. After the cement is injected, the needle is removed. If a cut was made in your back, it will be closed with stitches. A bandage may be placed over the area where your procedure was done. Your caregiver may do an x-ray or CT scan to check for any cement leaks.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest until you are fully awake. You will have to lie flat for about 1-2 hours so the cement can harden. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay A caregiver may remove your bandage soon after your procedure to check your wound. Once caregivers see that you are not having any problems, you may be able to go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you may be taken back to your room.

  • Medicine:

    • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.

      • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.

      • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.

  • Neurologic signs: Neurologic signs are also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. Caregivers check your eyes, your memory, and how awake and alert you are. This helps tell caregivers how your brain is working after your procedure.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.