Vertebroplasty: A Minimally-Invasive Method for Healing Spinal Compression Fractures
Osteoporosis and certain types of cancers can cause spinal compression fractures, which lead to collapsed vertebrae and extreme pain. This decreases a person’s ability to be active and can lead to many other complications as a result of becoming sedentary.
Prescott Valley resident Norman Walsh was in extreme pain and could barely move from his bed before his recent vertebroplasty procedure. “The pain had been excruciating…a ten or eleven every time I tried to turn over or move. It was awful.”
David Lloyd, M.D., is a partner with Prescott Radiologists and a board certified, fellowship-trained Neuroradiologist who specializes in back pain relieving procedures. Dr. Lloyd is also the Director of the Percutaneous Spine Procedure Program at Vascular and Interventional Specialists of Prescott. “Many patients must stay chairbound or bedridden for the pain to be bearable. Since most compression fractures take several months to fully heal, such immobility can lead to depression, blood clots, and other adverse health outcomes, in addition to increasing stress among loved ones and caregivers,” states Dr. Lloyd.
Vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that usually eliminates the patient’s pain. The radiologist uses image guidance to inject medical-grade cement into the collapsed vertebra to stabilize it. When other conservative medical therapies, such as pain medicine and rest, fail to help a patient, vertebroplasty can be a good option.
According to Dr. Lloyd, “Patients who suffer from osteoporosis are at increased risk for compression fractures of their spine, even after very minimal trauma. These fractures are extremely painful and debilitating and usually take months to heal. Very rarely will conservative treatment with pain medications and rest relieve the pain in a timely fashion, and pain medicines can have very uncomfortable side effects. Vertebroplasty provides pain relief by stabilizing the fracture through the injection of cement into the broken bone.”
Prompt evaluation by an interventional radiologist will maximize a successful result. After a certain amount of time has elapsed, the harder it can be to treat the fracture and relieve pain.
Dr. Lloyd explains, “The pain from vertebral compression fractures is usually so severe that most patients are severely restricted in their mobility. Hobbies and even basic chores are difficult to impossible to perform. Patients frequently have a hard time even dressing themselves, and even very active, otherwise healthy patients, must begin using a walker or wheelchair. By quickly relieving the pain, patients quickly resume their normal, baseline activity level.”
Norman Walsh agrees. “I woke up completely pain free. It was like a miracle.” Now, only a few weeks after the procedure, Mr. Walsh said he is going out to eat and to church and doing things he wasn’t able to do for months.
Dr. Lloyd adds, “The beautiful thing about vertebroplasty is its safety, effectiveness, and quick results. Vertebroplasty provides almost immediate pain relief in over 90% of patients. The majority of patients will notice complete pain relief the same day, while the rest will heal completely within the first couple of days after treatment. The procedure is also minimally invasive, meaning the patient does not need general anesthesia and can return home the same day as the procedure.”
If you have experienced a compression fracture, or if your doctor feels you may benefit from other pain relieving back procedures such as steroid injections, please contact Vascular and Interventional Specialists of Prescott at (928) 771-8477 for a consultation.