Vertebroplasty was first performed in France in 1984 to treat compression fractures caused by bone cancer or bone metastasis, and later to treat compression fractures caused by osteoporosis. Percutaneous vertebroplasty was introduced in the United States in 1994 and has become widely available since 1997 as a treatment for pain associated with compression fractures due to osteoporosis. The procedure has been shown to provide continued pain relief for osteoporotic compression fractures. A 1998 study by Dr. Deramond and colleagues reported on 80 patients with rapid and complete pain relief in more than 90 percent of osteoporotic cases. The follow-up in this patient population ranged from one month to 10 years with evidence of prolonged pain relief. Vertebroplasty is likely to become a standard of care for treating osteoporotic compression fractures as more patients and physicians become aware of the new advances in interventional radiology.
Vertebroplasty is an outpatient procedure using X-ray imaging and conscious sedation. The interventional radiologist inserts a needle through a 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. Vertebroplasty takes from one to two hours to perform depending on how many bones are treated. The cement hardens within 15 minutes and stabilizes the fracture, like an internal cast.