What is Percutaneous Vertebroplasty?
This is a method for treating fractures of the
spine caused by osteoporosis or tumors.
Each year in the U.S., 700,000 new spine
fractures occur due to osteoporosis. These
fractures result in 115,000 hospital stays for
pain control. Once you have had one
vertebral compression fracture (spine
fracture), your risk is five times greater for
more fractures. The pain that occurs after
the collapse of a vertebra can be intense and
deep. You may be confined to bed or a
wheelchair for a while. This pain may last
for 4 – 10 weeks. Pressing on the site of the
fracture will cause the pain. The collapse of
a vertebra most often occurs in the middle of
the spine, but may occur higher up in the
thoracic spine or lower in the lumbar spine,
near the tailbone.
This pain is often treated with bedrest, pain
relievers, and a back brace. If these
treatments are not effective, the patient and
his/her doctor may choose percutaneous
vertebroplasty. During this procedure, a
needle is placed through the skin
(percutaneously) into the painful vertebra.
The doctor watches progress of the needle
with a fluoroscope x-ray machine. The
doctor will inject some glue (like glue used
to “cement” a hip replacement) into the
collapsed vertebra. The glue makes it strong
and stops further damage. The main goal of
this “internal casting” of the vertebra is to
ease pain and strengthen the vertebra. The
success rate is about 85%.
Who Does This Procedure Help Most?
This is designed to help the patient who does
not gain pain control from other treatments.
The patients that respond the best have had
their fracture pain for six months or less.
If you have not improved with other
treatments, you may be a candidate for this
procedure. You will have X-rays and either
a CT scan, MRI scan, or bone scan of your
back. A radiologist who specializes in
vertebroplasty will review your X-rays and
talk about your case with your doctor. They
will then decide whether this treatment
might help your pain.
How to Prepare for Your Procedure
ξ Nothing to eat or drink for 6 hours
before the procedure. You may take
your medications with a sip of water.
ξ The Nurse Coordinator will review
your allergies and medications with
you. Further instructions will be
provided if you take blood thinners,
such as Plavix or Coumadin; or, if
you take medications for diabetes.
ξ You will be asked to stop taking
aspirin seven days before the
ξ You will be asked to stop taking
antiinflammatory drugs) like
Ibuprofen, Aleve, or Advil, two days
prior to your procedure.
ξ If you are started on antibiotics for
an infection prior to the procedure
call the Nurse Coordinator.
ξ If you have sleep apnea, you will
need to bring your CPAP or BiPAP
machine with you on the day of the
ξ Bring inhalers and any medications
you will need with you.
ξ You must have a friend or family
member drive you to the hospital and
take you home.
▪ Do not drive or make important
personal or business decisions until
the next day.
On the day of the procedure, enter the
hospital through the clinic entrance and take
the Atrium elevators to the 3rd floor. Check
in at the (G3/3) Radiology desk. You will
be taken to a preparation area where you
will change into a gown. An intravenous
(IV) line will be placed in your vein by a
nurse. The doctor will meet you in the prep
room to explain the risks and benefits of the
procedure; and, answer all your questions or
concerns. After your questions have been
answered, you will sign a consent form.
At this point, you will be brought to the
procedure room on a cart. You will be
transferred to a procedure table. You will lie
on your stomach. A nurse will give you
medicine to relax you and lessen your pain.
During this time, your blood pressure,
oxygen level, heart rhythm, and heart rate
will be checked often. The fractured
vertebra will be found using a fluoroscope
(X-ray). The skin over the vertebra will be
cleaned with iodine-based soap. After
cleaning your back, a sterile drape will be
put over it. Guided by a fluoroscope, one or
two needles are passed through the skin and
into the collapsed vertebra. Once the
needles are in the proper place, the doctor
will inject the cement. The cement makes
the collapsed vertebra stable and may relieve
the pain. Then, the needle(s) will be
removed. A dressing will be placed over the
After the Procedure
Once the procedure is over, you will be
transferred to the recovery room where they
will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate,
and oxygen level. You will need to lie flat
on your back for 40 minutes. Once you are
awake and can sit up, you can eat. You will
be watched for the next 2 hours in the
hospital. After that time, you will be
allowed to go home. A nurse will call you
several days after the procedure. The doctor
will see you back in clinic in 2-3 weeks.
Care at Home
ξ Resume your normal diet, no alcohol
for the first 24 hours after the
ξ Continue your medications for your
ξ Restart NSAIDS (non-steroidal
antiinflammatory drugs) like
Ibuprofen, Aleve, or Advil, the day
after your procedure.
ξ May use ice, not directly on the skin,
for 20 minute intervals to help
decrease swelling and discomfort.
ξ It is okay to shower, but no baths
tubs, hot tubs, or swimming for at
least 3 days.
ξ Two days after the procedure, you
will need to remove the clear
dressing and gauze.
ξ You will have steri strips (small
white band aids) covering your
incision. They should stay on for
seven days. It is okay if they fall off
on their own.
When to contact the Radiologist
You or one of your family members should
call the doctor if any of these symptoms
ξ Sudden onset of pain that travels
down the leg.
ξ Sudden onset of weakness of the
arm or leg.
ξ Sudden onset of shortness of
breath or it becomes worse.
ξ If the area around the site becomes
red, swollen, or more painful. You
have a white or yellow pus or
drainage from the site. You have a
fever greater than 100.4º F or 38º
ξ New onset of rib pain.
ξ Musculoskeletal Nurse Coordinator:
ξ After 5:00 p.m. or weekends, call
(608) 263-6400. Please ask for the
Bone Radiologist. Leave your name
and phone number with the area
code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, call
ξ If you need to reschedule, call
(608) 263-6871 between 8:00 a.m. to
ξ If you are in need of immediate help,
call 911 or go to the nearest
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor.
This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because
each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team
when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2016. University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing.