Gardening, walking, playing with your grandchildren. For those with severe back pain from osteoporosis, trauma or tumors, these simple activities can be challenging. Vertebroplasty, minimally invasive procedure for vertebral compression fractures can help treat back pain safely and effectively providing immediate relief. The interventional radiology team at Bristol Hospital has performed over 400 vertebroplasty procedures. Isn’t it time for you to get back to your active lifestyle?


Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures. Your interventional radiologist, using imaging guidance, stabilizes the collapsed vertebra with an injection of medical-grade bone cement into the spine. This reduces pain, and can prevent further collapse of the vertebra, thereby preventing the height loss and spine curvature commonly seen as a result of osteoporosis. Vertebroplasty dramatically improves back pain within hours of the procedure, provides long-term pain relief and has a low complication rate, as demonstrated in multiple studies.

Vetrobroplasty Image


Vertebrae are the bones of the back, which join together to make up the spinal column. In a compression fracture, the bone tissue of the vertebral body collapses. This condition is commonly caused by osteoporosis and less often by tumor or trauma to the back.

When the fracture occurs as a result of osteoporosis, the vertebrae in the chest and lower spine are usually affected and symptoms may become worse with walking. With multiple fractures, kyphosis, a forward hump-like curvature of the spine may result. Symptoms depend upon the area of the back that is affected. In some cases, the fracture may heal without treatment and the pain goes away. In others, the bone does not stabilize and continues to move, causing persistent pain that in turn limits physical activities.


Vertebroplasty requires that you lie on your stomach, which is performed under light sedation. The interventional radiologist inserts a needle through a small nick in the skin in the back, directing it under fluoroscopy (continuous, moving X-ray imaging) into the fractured vertebra. The physician then injects the medical-grade bone cement into the vertebra. The cement hardens within 15 minutes and stabilizes the fracture, like an internal cast. Vertebroplasty takes from 1-2 hours to perform depending on how many bones are treated.

Some patients experience immediate pain relief after vertebroplasty. Most report that their pain is gone or significantly better within 48 hours. Typically, many people can resume normal activities within 24-48 hours.


The best candidates for the procedure are those people who have recently suffered a compression fracture and are having moderate to severe back pain. Vertebroplasty is not usually helpful for chronic back pain or disc problems. To determine whether vertebroplasty is the right treatment for the patient, the doctor will order X-rays of the patient's spine, and other imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a bone scan. These tests help to determine where the fractures are and how recently they occurred.


How can Vertebroplasty help me?

In most patients, Vertebroplasty provides immediate and lasting relief of pain related to vertebral compression fractures. Many patients return to their normal activities within only a few days of having the procedure, and most report continued relief from pain months and years later.


  • Minimally invasive
  • Lasts 1-2 hours
  • Rapid recovery time
  • Immediate pain relief or elimination within 48 hours

What is the success rate, and what are the risks?

Most patients report significant pain relief within a few hours of the procedure. The most recent studies report 90% and higher success rates for significantly relieving pain associated with vertebral compression fractures. The resulting benefits in quality of life and well-being are equally high; most patients are able to return to their normal activities within a few days. Complications from the procedure are rare, affecting only about 1 - 3 % of patients with osteoporotic compression fractures. The success rate and potential complications depend upon each patient's health and other factors. You should discuss these risks and complications with your doctor.

Does Medicare or private insurance cover Vertebroplasty?

Vertebroplasty is usually covered by Medicare as well as by many private insurers.

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