Pain Pract. 2001 Jan;1(1):46-52. doi: 10.1046/j.1533-2500.2001.01006.x.


Vertebroplasty is the percutaneous placement of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) into vertebral compression fractures for relief of pain. Polymethylmethacrylate is the cement used by orthopedic surgeons for rapid stable fixation of prosthetics in living bone. While the exact mechanism of pain relief is unknown, it is believed that the delivery of the PMMA into the fracture stabilizes the vertebral body, obtaining an analgesic effect. Vertebroplasty is an outpatient procedure that is performed with the aid of fluoroscopy. It has a high benefit/risk ratio with high success rates in comparison to extremely low complication rates. These patients consist of elderly osteoporotic patients that often times have underlying medical conditions or younger patients suffering from steroid or metastatic induced compression fractures. These patients are considered to be poor surgical candidates. In the past, this patient population has been relegated to epidural steroid injections, epidural catheters, or time contingent narcotics to control the pain. These conservative measures often lead to a patient with decreased activities of daily living and uncontrolled pain. Vertebroplasty provides a safe procedure that allows for long-term pain relief, decreased use of medication, and increased activities of daily living. This article is a review of the history, indications, contraindications, and key outcome studies. The technique is described along with complications, preprocedural care, and postprocedural care.