Vertebral compression fracture

A vertebral compression fracture (VCF) occurs when bones of the spine, collapse. Most VCFs occur in the mid to lower back and are often caused by falls in people with weakened bones. A VCF can be extremely painful but can be relieved by a quick, minimally invasive procedure.

How do we diagnose a Vertebral Compression Fracture?


Usually, vertebral compression fractures can be diagnosed and followed with plain x-rays of the spine alone. X-rays are quick, non-invasive, and use little radiation.

Computed Tomography (CT)

CT is a rapid and accurate method used to diagnose vertebral compression fractures. CT scanners use a series of x-rays and powerful computers to create 2 and 3-dimensional images of the spine. Additionally, CT provides further information about the soft tissues and organs surrounding the spine.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI is a very powerful tool for diagnosing vertebral compression fractures. MRI uses a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed images of the spine sometimes finding injuries not detected otherwise. MRI can also give information about the age of the fracture and the health of the nerves exiting the spine near the site of injury.

Bone Scan

A bone scan is a special type of study in which a small quantity of a radiotracer is injected into the patient’s bloodstream and allowed to be absorbed the bones and other organs. Healing vertebral fractures absorb a greater amount of the radiotracer than normal bone, which can be used to identify which fractures are causing a patient pain.

How do we treat a Vertebral Compression Fracture?

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure in which small incisions are made in the patient’s back under x-ray guidance at the site of the injury. Special tools are then used to restore some of the lost height to the collapsed vertebra before the cement is injected to stabilize the injured bone. These procedures can provide significant and often rapid pain relief without surgery for patients with compression fractures.