Painful Osteoporotic SpineFractures Can Be Fixed Without Major Surgery

Advanced age, asthma, diabetes, emphysema,menopause, chronic steroid use and rheumatoid arthritis are all risk factors for osteoporosis. The resultant weakening of bones can lead to compression fractures of the spine causing severe pain, deformity, loss of height, immobilization, and in some cases, failure to thrive. 

Historically, vertebral compression fractures have been treated either with conservative methods of cast or brace immobilization with long term bed resting or with major surgery. This surgery requires along incision, screws and rods for fixation and is done under general Anesthesia. These treatments are limited by long recovery times and disruption of daily life.

Now, these painful spine fractures can be treated with a Minimally Invasive, Non Surgical procedure known as vertebroplasty, an innovative alternative to traditional treatments which stabilizes fractures of the spine safely and effectively, often providing immediate pain relief. In addition, percutaneous vertebroplasty can be performed in vertebrae that are not suitable for surgical fixation, for instance because of osteoporosis or because general anesthesia may not be advised in patients who are very sick.

"After performing good number of vertebroplasties, I can confirm that this is one of the most significant procedures in selected patients for the treatment for vertebral compression fractures," said Dr. Pankaj N Surange of Interventional Pain and SpineCentre

"The beauty of this procedure is its simplicity," continued Dr.Surange. "A small needle is advanced into the fracture using only local anesthetic followed by the placement of bone cement into the fractured area.The cement hardens in about 10-15 minutes and remarkably the pain is gone."

Studies have shown patients who undergo vertebroplasty experience 90 percent or better reduction in pain within 24 hours and increased ability to perform daily activities soon thereafter. The procedure requires no overnight stay or general anesthesia, reducing the risk of complications associated with surgical fixation.

Osteoporosisis common among menopausal women but is often clinically silent until a fragility fracture occurs. Osteoporosis is also being recognized with increasing frequency in older men. Clinically, osteoporosis is diagnosed when bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced or when fragility fractures (ie, fractures after little or no trauma) occur.Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is by far the best standardized technique and is preferred for diagnosing osteoporosis and monitoring responses to therapy. BMD assessment by DXA has been used by the World Health Organization to define osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Vertebroplasty is a percutaneous,minimally invasive procedure with a low complication rate that provides immediate and long-term pain relief to patients suffering from chronic vertebral compression fracture pain. Procedure is done under Local anesthesia with little sedation, if required , and is done under fluoroscopy guidance.Procedure time is less than 60 min and after 2 hours of monitoring in recovery room , patient is shifted to his/her room. The patient is discharged next day with routine pain medications and a graduated resumption of activity.