Vertebroplasty / Sacroplasty

What is a Vertebroplasty or a Sacroplasty?

  • Painful vertebral compression fractures are common in people suffering from osteoporosis.
  • Other causes for vertebral fractures include benign or malignant tumors, high dose steroid use associated with lupus, scleroderma, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Likewise, sacral fractures due to injury or disease may cause significant and disabling pain.
  • While recent fractures (less than twelve months old) respond best to a vertebroplasty or sacroplasty, older fractures can also be successfully treated.
    • This procedure is not used to treat arthritis, herniated discs or spinal canal stenosis.
  • A vertebroplasty (pictured on the right) or sacroplasty involves the injection of bone cement into the damaged vertebra or sacrum utilizing a special needle. As the cement hardens the bone is stabilized, thereby preventing further collapse of the affected structures.
  • Complications are rare following a vertebroplasty or sacroplasty.
    • The most significant risk associated with a vertebroplasty is leakage of the cement into the spinal canal, which can result in nerve pain or paralysis.
    • It is possible for you to be allergic to the medications that are used during this procedure.
  • This procedure is always performed using an X-ray machine in the day surgery setting. 


Prior to the Procedure

  • All blood thinning products (except aspirin) must be stopped prior to your procedure. You will be advised by letter when to stop taking these medications at the time that your admission date is arranged.
  • You are able to take your other regular medications with a sip of water on the morning of your procedure.
  • If you are an insulin dependent diabetic you will always be at the beginning of the list. Please bring your insulin with you and it will be given to you following your procedure.
  • Hamilton Day Surgery Centre staff will advise you of your fasting and admission times.
  • You must not have anything to eat, drink, smoke or chew prior to your procedure.
  • You will need to organise someone to drive you home after the procedure as you will not be able to drive for 24 hours after your procedure.


What Will Happen?

  1. You will be admitted to the day surgery by a nurse and you will be asked to change into a gown.
  2. The Anaesthetist will speak with you and place a cannula (plastic needle) into a vein in your hand.
  3. In the procedure room, you will be assisted to position on the procedure table on your abdomen with your hips and abdomen supported by a pillow.
  4. The Anaesthetist will give you some sedation into your vein.
  5. The procedure will take approximately 45 minutes to complete.
  6. After the procedure, you will be placed on a trolley and taken to recovery, where you will remain for approximately one hour.
  7. After having something to eat and drink, you will be discharged with a carer.


Post Procedure

  • You may experience immediate pain relief in the first few hours following your procedure.
  • You may experience some local bruising and tenderness at your procedure site.
  • Gentle activity and rest is recommended in the first 24 hours following your procedure.
  • Mobilising and walking is encouraged following the procedure.
  • Lifting should be avoided for 3 months following your procedure (i.e. nothing heavier than a carton of milk).
    • Three months after your procedure, you may gradually increase the amount of weight you lift to your normal level.
  • Should you experience any chest pain and/or shortness of breath after discharge you should go to your nearest emergency department for medical assessment.
  • A nurse from HPC will telephone you 24 to 48 hours following your procedure to check on your progress and organise a follow up appointment approximately six weeks after your procedure.  

If you require further explanation of the procedure, please contact Hunter Pain Clinic nursing staff on (02) 4985 1800.


* Image by James Heilman, MD (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons