Vertebral Augmentation

Vertebral augmentation, or kyphoplasty, is a minimally invasive treatment that can repair spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis, cancer or benign lesions. Spinal fractures can result from something dramatic like a fall, or from simple movements like coughing, sneezing or turning in bed. Interventional radiologists use orthopedic balloons to lift the fractured bone and return it to its correct position and medical cement to stabilize the fracture.

Nonsurgical spinal fracture repair.

Vertebral body compression fractures cause significant pain and disability. They occur when the bones in your spine, called vertebrae, get so weak that they fracture and collapse, whether from a true event or a simple motion. In many cases, vertebral augmentation, commonly known as kyphoplasty, can improve quality of life. Our vascular and interventional radiologists have extensive experience in the treatment of vertebral body fractures through this minimally invasive procedure. If you have a painful vertebral body fracture, call Eastern Radiologists Vascular and Interventional Radiology and schedule a consultation to find out if this procedure is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are spinal fractures that common?

Spinal fractures are twice as common as hip fractures and three times more common than breast cancer. They’re most common in postmenopausal women over 55. In fact, one in two women over age 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related spinal fracture. If a spinal fracture is left untreated, the vertebra may heal in the "broken" or "caved in" position, which can lead to increased forward curvature, or kyphosis, the medical term for the visible postural change that people refer to as a "dowager's hump" or "hunchback."

Who can benefit from vertebral augmentation?

Patients over 50 who suffer from sudden onset, sharp back pain lasting longer than three days are good candidates for vertebral augmentation. Also, patients with diagnosed osteoporosis (any age), coupled with sharp, persistent back pain, can benefit from this procedure.

What are the risks?

The complication rate for vertebral augmentation has been demonstrated to be low. As with any medical procedure, there are associated risks, including serious complications that are rare, but some of which could be fatal. These include heart attack, cardiac arrest (heart stops beating), stroke and embolism (blood, fat or cement that migrates to the lungs, heart or brain). Other complications include infection and leakage of bone cement into the muscle and tissue. Cement leakage into the blood vessels may result in damage to the blood vessels, lungs, heart and/or brain. Cement leakage into the area surrounding the spinal cord may result in nerve injury that can, in rare instances, cause paralysis.

What is an interventional radiologist?

Interventional radiologists are specially trained physicians who use small catheters, stents and other minimally invasive devices, while watching their progress on X-ray or other imaging equipment, to diagnose and treat conditions. Typically, the interventional radiologist performs procedures through a very small nick in the skin. Interventional radiology treatments are generally better tolerated than surgery because they involve no surgical incisions, less pain and shorter hospital stays. Your interventional radiologist will work closely with your doctor or other health care provider to be sure you receive the best possible care.

Schedule an appointment.

Please have your doctor schedule your appointment for this service. If you have questions about your appointment or need to reschedule call 252.752.5000. This service is offered at the following locations:

Prepare for your appointment.

Please bring all medications (including herbal supplements) that you are currently taking to your appointment, and notify us of any allergies, especially to local anesthetic medications, general anesthesia or contrast materials containing iodine. Your doctor may advise you to stop taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or anticoagulants for a specified period of time before your procedure. Women should always inform us immediately if there is any possibility of pregnancy.

On the day of the procedure, you should be able to take your usual medications with sips of water or clear liquid up to six hours before the procedure. Otherwise, please refrain from eating or drinking. Please arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home after the procedure.