Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

My father had some superglue injected into his spine. It’s supposed to help stiffen it up while he was healing from a vertebral compression fracture. He was no sooner home when he got a new fracture two bones below. How often does this happen? Can't they use this superglue before the bones break?

Answer:

The procedure your father had was most likely called a vertebroplasty. A long thin needle is inserted into the bone. A strong cement or "superglue" is injected into the area. The cement fills in any cracks or fractures that may be present.

New fractures after vertebroplasty are actually fairly common. Doctors aren't sure if this is just a coincidence or not. The patient may have fractured in the new place even without the first fracture.

Vertebral fractures are common in older adults with osteoporosis. Medications such as corticosteroids taken for other inflammatory conditions put them at an even greater risk for bone fracture. Three of the most common problems patients take long-term steroids for include asthma, lupus, or sarcoidosis.

Vertebroplasty is an operation and any procedure of this type puts the patient at risk for other health concerns. Doing a vertebroplasty as prevention for conditions like osteoporosis just isn't a good idea. It would be much better if we all work to prevent problems like decreased bone mass from starting in the first place. Lifelong dietary and exercise guidelines are the key to many conditions like this.

Heidi Prather, DO, et al. Prospective Measurement of Function and Pain in Patients with Non-Neoplastic Compression Fractures Treated with Vertebroplasty. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. February 2006. Vol. 88-A. No. 2. Pp. 334-341.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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