First, you'll be clinically evaluated. The evaluation generally includes diagnostic imaging, blood tests and a physical exam. Diagnostic imaging such as spine x-rays, a radioisotope bone scan or magnetic resonance (MR) imaging will be done to confirm the presence of a compression fracture that is amenable to vertebroplasty. If an MR cannot be performed, because of a pacemaker or other medical factor, a CT scan can be substituted. In preparation for the clinical evaluation and physical exam, you should obtain and bring with you any previous diagnostic images, especially x-rays or MR films. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are allergic to x-ray contrast material, which contains iodine.
Most medical facilities provide patients with pre-procedure instructions. Instructions will typically tell you not to eat for at least six hours before the procedure. If you are diabetic, you should contact your doctor for instructions on regulating your blood sugar and medications. On the day of the procedure, if your doctor instructs you to take your usual medications, swallow your medication with sips of water or clear liquid up to three hours before the procedure. Avoid drinking orange juice, cream and milk.
If you take an anticoagulation medication (blood thinners such as Coumadin), you will have to stop the treatment until coagulation becomes normal, usually within three to five days. Contact your doctor before stopping any medication to determine if it is safe for you. On the day of the procedure, patients who use blood thinners should report to the hospital a little earlier for a blood test to verify that their anticoagulant has stopped working. If you are unable to interrupt your anticoagulant regimen, a short in-patient stay for intravenous treatment with heparin may be required. All patients should arrange for an adult to drive them home after the procedure.