Osteoporosis & Vertebroplasty

Vertebroplasty/kyphoplasty is a treatment to relieve pain from osteoporotic spine fractures or spine pain from spread of cancer to the spine. The procedure involves the injection of cement in to the affected bone through a small stab incision in the skin. The procedure can be performed under local or general anaesthesia and is done as a day case procedure. The procedure usually takes 1 hour to perform.

Overall vertebroplasty/kyphoplasty is a safe and effective operation but as with all operations there are risks. The risks include nerve root damage, which can leave you with leg paralysis and/or bladder problems, haemorrhage, infection and fluid leaks. The latter three complications can lead to a longer stay in hospital and/or second or third procedures. These risks are small and at most total 2-5%. There is also a small risk of leakage of cement in to the spinal canal and surrounding veins, which rarely can cause a clot in the lungs. The risk of death from this is very small.

The recuperation period varies between people but on average is 2-4 weeks. We do not routinely recommend any physiotherapy at this early stage. At the 2-3 month stage you should be thinking about taking some more vigorous exercise. Walking, swimming, aerobic classes are all very suitable but please avoid contact sports, rowing machines and lifting weights! Physiotherapy can help if you are having difficulties at this stage.  

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