The spine is made up of bones, called vertebrae, separated by soft cushions, called intervertebral discs.
Vertebral fractures occur in thousands of people each year. The main cause of these fractures is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bone to lose strength and become weak and susceptible to fractures.
Using a special x-ray machine, a bone needle is guided through the skin and into the fractured vertebra. A cement-like material called polymethylmethacrylate acrylic cement, called PMMA, is injected into the vertebra. The needle is removed and the cement hardens, stabilizing the vertebra.
Vertebroplasty helps to stabilize the vertebral fracture, which in turn helps reduce or eliminate the patient's pain.
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.