Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

My father just had a vertebroplasty for a vertebral fracture. Because he's so osteoporotic, much of the glue leaked out of the bone. Will this cause even more problems for him?

Answer:

Vertebroplasty is the injection of a cement-like substance into the fractured vertebral bone. The goal is to strengthen the bone and reduce pain for the patient. With osteoporotic or brittle bones, the cement can leak out.

Problems can occur when this happens. The first problem is that the surgery may be considered a failure. If the cement doesn't give at least a partial repair of the fracture, then the patient may continue to suffer from the pain.

Doctors are aware of these problems and have many methods they use to keep it from happening. It's not a problem if the cement leaks into the disc area. It's also not a problem if the cement leaks out of the front or side of the bone.

The real issue is when the cement leaks into the epidural space. This is the area behind the bone next to the spinal cord. Cement in this space can harden and then put pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves exiting the area.

Sometimes the body just absorbs or breaks down the extra cement and no further problems occur. For now it may be a wait-and-see situation. Follow-up visits with the doctor are important. Encourage your father to keep all of his appointments with the doctor no matter how he's feeling.

Chandra Bhatia, Mch, Orth, et al. Cement Leakage in Percutaneous Vertebroplasty. In Spine. April 15, 2006. Vol. 31. No. 8. Pp. 915-919.

*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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