The spine is made up of bones (vertebrae) separated by soft cushions (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 (PMMA) is injected into the vertebra. The needle is removed and the cement hardens, stabilizing the vertebra.
Vertebroplasty is a relatively new procedure. It 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, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.