Vertebroplasty is a procedure in which bone cement is injected directly into a fractured vertebra to stabilize the fracture. Kyphoplasty is a procedure in which a balloon catheter is used in addition to the cement.

How do I prepare for the exam?

Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the exam.

Most patients are admitted through the Admissions and Testing Unit about two hours prior to test time. After you check in, Admissions and Testing staff will prep you for your exam, including checking vital signs, taking any needed laboratory tests, and starting an IV if necessary.

If you are taking any blood thinners, diabetic medication or are allergic to contrast, please notify us when your exam is scheduled, as there are special instructions that go along with these conditions.

What can I expect during the exam?

You will lie on your stomach on the exam table, and a nurse will place you on a monitor and administer sedatives. While you will be drowsy during the exam, it is important that you be able to tell the radiologist if you experience any excessive pain, numbness or tingling.

The area on your back where the fractured vertebrae will be accessed will be shaved, sterilely cleaned and draped. A local numbing medicine will be used to numb the skin and muscles around the spine.

For Vertebroplasty, a hollow needle is passed through the spinal muscles until the tip is positioned within the fractured vertebrae. The radiologist will watch the movement of the needle using live x-ray images (known as fluoroscopy). Once the needle is in the vertebral body, the bone cement is injected.

For Kyphoplasty, a balloon catheter (a small, flexible catheter tube with an inflatable balloon on the end) is guided into the vertebrae using fluoroscopy, and the balloon is inflated. The balloon is removed, and the remaining cavity is filled with bone cement.

The procedure will take approximately one hour.

What can I expect after the exam?

After the procedure, you will return to the Admission and Testing unit for bed rest and monitoring for approximately two hours. Detailed discharge instructions will be provided to you at this time.

Please arrange for a ride home after you are discharged, as you cannot drive for 24 hours after the exam.