Physicians and interventional radiologists at St. Rita's are using a new technique called vertebroplasty to help victims relieve the pain from compression fractures which is often due to osteoporosis. Vertebral (spine) compression fractures are a complication of osteoporosis, a disease that affects bone mass making victims more susceptible to fractures. As untreated osteoporosis progresses, victims may experience spinal compression fractures resulting in recurrent back pain. Another external symptom from vertebral compression fractures is a spinal deformity, call a Dowager's hump that looks like a hump high on a victim's back and brings about a loss of height. 

How does this new treatment work? Interventional radiologists using special imaging equipment, inject a material into the patient's weakened vertebra to stabilize it. The material injected is a type of acrylic cement commonly used in orthopedic procedures. Many patients report having immediate pain relief after the procedure; which experts attribute to the vertebral stabilization. In addition to treating vertebral compression fractures, this outpatient procedure is also used to treat certain types of spinal lesions.

According to the Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million people have osteoporosis, including 45 percent of white women over 50 years of age. The organization reports that an estimated 700,000 osteoporosis-related vertebral compression fractures occur annually.