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What is the purpose of a vertebroplasty?

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The purpose of vertebroplasty is the stabilization of compression fractures in the spine. It usually is an outpatient procedure and is performed by injecting bone cement into vertebral fractures, states Mayo Clinic. The cement hardens, stabilizing and supporting the spine, which reduces pain and increases mobility.

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Compression fractures occur when pressure causes bone to break. They frequently result from osteoporosis, which weakens vertebrae by causing bone to be broken down faster than new bone growth occurs. Specialists recommend vertebroplasty when more conservative treatments have not provided pain relief and pain is severe, according to Mayo Clinic. Specialists also recommend the procedure when a compression fracture is less than six months old and imaging tests pinpoint the fracture location. The patient's bones must be strong enough to withstand the procedure without producing further damage.

Vertebroplasty allows patients to return to normal activities, reduces the need for pain medications and reduces the risk of future fractures in the treated bone. It is performed on sedated but conscious patients and uses X-ray imaging to guide the injection of bone cement, reports Mayo Clinic. The surgery requires approximately one hour per vertebrae treated. The patient must lie on his back for at least two hours following the procedure to allow the cement to harden. Doctors prescribe physical therapy and osteoporosis treatment, when necessary, after vertebroplasty to quicken recovery and minimize future fractures.

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