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Interventions for Fractured Vertebrae

Fractured vertebrae are a common problem that is often very painful and debilitating. When the vertebra breaks, usually as a result of weakening and downward pressure or trauma, its size and shape can be compromised, and its volume significantly reduced. This typically pinches the spine or spinal nerve roots, potentially causing severe pain and normally making movement very uncomfortable.

Interventional radiologists offer successful and popular approaches to treating fractured vertebrae that allow patients to avoid the surgery that would previously have been necessary for this condition. Instead of open surgery in the back, the patient can undergo one of several similar, minimally invasive, outpatient procedures involving locating the fracture point with imaging and then using needles and injectable surgical cement, under X-ray guidance. The procedures normally require only local anesthesia and, for some patients, mild sedation.

Vertebroplasty. In this approach, the interventionalist carefully places a needle in the weakened area and injects surgical cement to strengthen the vertebra.

Kyphoplasty. This procedure adds the additional step of a balloon catheter used to reposition the vertebra before injection of the surgical cement

Vertebral augmentation. In this newer, hybrid procedure, the radiologist inserts a cannula into the vertebra and uses flexible instruments to create a cavity within the vertebral space. The specialist then uses an ultra-high viscosity, radio-frequency-heated cement to fill, decompress and reposition the bone.

Patients need only stay immobile for a few hours while the special, quick-setting acrylic cement stabilizes and forms a permanent cast in the interior of the vertebra. Patients return home the same day, often reporting immediate pain relief. Partly as a result, mobility also improves. The repair is durable for many years and can be repeated if additional stabilization is necessary or if additional fractures occur.

Interventional radiologists at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes offer experienced vertebroplasty services, while those at Virtua Willingboro Hospital place special emphasize kyphoplasty and vertebral augmentation. Lourdes orthopedic surgeons also offer kyphoplasty.

These vertebral interventions generally do away with the need for general anesthesia, potential for surgical complications and requirement for both an inpatient stay in the hospital and recovery after discharge–all necessitated when undergoing open back surgery.

More information on interventional radiology.

To arrange for radiology services at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes or Virtua Willingboro Hospital:

Interventionalists provide a range of essential procedures involving blood vessels.


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