Vertebral Body Replacement (VBR)

Vertebral body replacement (VBR), also known as vertebral body replacement surgery or vertebral body augmentation, is a surgical procedure used to treat severe vertebral fractures, tumors, or other conditions that affect the structural integrity of the spine. The procedure involves removing a damaged or compromised vertebral body and replacing it with an implant designed to restore stability to the spine while maintaining the overall alignment of the spine.

Here's an overview of the vertebral body replacement procedure:

  1. Patient Evaluation: Candidates for vertebral body replacement typically have severe vertebral fractures due to trauma, osteoporosis, tumors, or other spinal conditions. The extent of the fracture and the overall health of the patient are considered to determine if the procedure is appropriate.

  2. Surgery: The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. A surgical approach is chosen based on the location of the affected vertebral body. The damaged vertebral body is carefully removed, along with any tumor or compromised tissue.

  3. Implant Insertion: An artificial implant is then inserted into the space left by the removed vertebral body. This implant is designed to mimic the natural shape and function of the vertebral body, providing support to the spine and restoring stability.

  4. Implant Types: The implants used in vertebral body replacement can vary and may include metal cages, prosthetic spacers, or other specialized devices. Some implants are filled with bone graft material to facilitate fusion between the adjacent vertebral bodies over time.

  5. Stabilization: Depending on the specifics of the case, the implant may be supplemented with additional hardware, such as screws or plates, to ensure stability during the healing process.

  6. Recovery: After the procedure, patients are usually monitored in the hospital for a period before being discharged. Recovery times can vary, and physical therapy may be recommended to aid in rehabilitation and strengthen the spine.

Benefits of vertebral body replacement include:

  • Stabilization: The procedure aims to restore spinal stability and prevent further collapse of the affected vertebral body.

  • Pain Relief: By removing damaged tissue and stabilizing the spine, vertebral body replacement can provide relief from pain caused by fractures or spinal instability.

  • Preservation of Alignment: The procedure helps maintain the natural alignment of the spine, which is important for overall spinal function.

  • Potential for Fusion: In some cases, the implant may promote fusion between the adjacent vertebral bodies, providing additional long-term stability.

As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications associated with vertebral body replacement, including infection, implant failure, and nerve injury. The decision to undergo this procedure is made after thorough evaluation and consultation with a healthcare provider who can determine if it's the best treatment option for the patient's specific condition.

Spine Physicians Institute treats back pain, neck pain, herniated discs, stenosis and other spine problems. Patients come to the spine center from across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Dr. Sethuraman is one of few Mayo Clinic fellowship-trained spine surgeons in the North Texas area. A fellowship is the highest level of medical education in the U.S.

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