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Procedures for Compression Fractures of the Spine

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about procedures for compression fractures of the spine?

Procedures for painful compression fractures caused by osteoporosis are done when other treatments do not work. These procedures can relieve pain and increase movement.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

Sometime before your procedure, your healthcare provider will tell you to stop taking certain medicines. These medicines may include aspirin, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, and blood thinners. You will be told not to eat or drink for 6 hours before your procedure. You will be told to take your regular medicine with sips of water the morning of your procedure. Arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure.

What will happen during the procedure?

  • You may be given anesthesia that may keep you awake, relaxed, and pain-free. You will only feel pressure. You may, instead, be given anesthesia to keep you asleep and pain-free. You may also receive numbing medicine in your back near the fracture. A small incision is made on your back.
  • Your healthcare provider will use medical cement to bond the pieces of your broken vertebrae. During vertebroplasty a type of x-ray is used to guide healthcare providers to the area that medical cement is injected. Kyphoplasty uses a type of x-ray to help providers guide a balloon into the area. The balloon is inflated and removed. Medical cement is injected into the space made by the balloon.
  • An x-ray or CT scan will be done to check the placement of the cement. The incision will be covered with a bandage. Your healthcare provider will wait for the cement to harden before moving you off the procedure table.

What will happen after the procedure?

Healthcare providers will monitor for increased pain and weakness. You may be able to go home after your procedure, or you may need to stay in the hospital overnight. You may have discomfort for up to 3 days after your procedure. You will be able to do most of your regular daily activities at home. You will not be able to do heavy lifting for about 6 weeks.

What are the risks of my procedure?

Medical cement may leak into your spinal canal. The cement may harden and compress your spinal cord. If this happens, you will need surgery right away. A blood clot in your lungs may form because of the leaked cement. You may get an infection. You may bleed more than expected. Other vertebrae near the cement may break.

Care Agreement

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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